When Bill de Blasio Met New York Police Unions, Here's Exactly What Went Down
The recent divide between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's law enforcement has been so palpable that an unprecedented emergency meeting was called to try and mend the rift. Along with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, de Blasio met with police union leaders on Tuesday to candidly vent complaints from both sides in an attempt to move forward on a more united front. After facing some scathing criticism from police unions in the last few weeks, the meeting was clearly de Blasio's attempt to extend an olive branch, but his offer wasn't exactly received with open arms.
At the two-hour meeting, which took place at the new Police Academy in Queens, New York, the mayor sat down with the leaders of the city's five police unions, including head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch, who has perhaps been de Blasio's toughest and most outspoken critic. Lynch has repeatedly slammed de Blasio's supportive stance on protesters, which he believes encouraged anti-police sentiment and led to the assassination of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. It was clear that de Blasio had lost the trust of law enforcement when hundreds turned their backs on him during Ramos' funeral and a group of officers protested him at Liu's funeral. Amid this deafening disapproval, de Blasio invited the union leaders to sit down for Tuesday's meeting. Here's what went down.
The Unions' Side
According to reports, the meeting amounted to a mutual airing of grievances, of which the unions clearly had many more. Before the meeting commenced, NYPD Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter sent an email to the NYPD, saying, "The sense of betrayal we feel by our elected officials and public we serve is from another time much further in our past," perhaps referencing de Blasio's cracking down on policing tactics like stop-and-frisk since starting his administration.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association quoted its president in a tweet last Friday:
Besides reiterating their complaints over de Blasio's anti-police stance, union leaders also brought up his relationship with Reverend Al Sharpton, which the mayor did not address, according to a source who spoke to the New York Times.
The Mayor's Side
As for de Blasio, who clearly had his job cut out for him, he had no concrete objective further than to have a meeting "focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together," according to a statement from his press secretary. The statement also read:
The Mayor and Police Commissioner remain committed to keeping crime in New York City at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day, and finding ways to bring police and the community closer together.
When union leaders mentioned the officers who turned their backs on him at Ramos's funeral, de Blasio said that he needed to "turn them back around," according to the NYT source.
No Clear Resolution
However, after two hours of clearing the air, both sides seemed to have reached an impasse. Lynch told reporters after the meeting adjourned:
There was no resolve. Actions speak louder than words and time will tell.
A source who was briefed on the meeting told the Associated Press that neither side issued an apology. Both the mayor and the unions decided to meet again, though no time frame was specified. Hopefully, their next meeting will see more progress.Images: Getty Images (3)