That is the message nearly 400 Police Benevolent Association delegates have delivered to Governor Cuomo about Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
The PBA delegates’ no-confidence votes in the city’s top two law-enforcement officials Aug. 28 followed by nine days Mr. O’Neill’s decision to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo and, by about 10 days, the apparent scuttling of a deal that would have allowed him to resign and keep his pension.
Their action was the latest salvo in an often-hostile conflict between the PBA and Mr. de Blasio that has dogged him for most of his 68-month tenure over issues of perceived disrespect and Police Officers’ pay.
“Today’s votes are an unequivocal indictment of our failed leaders in City Hall and 1 Police Plaza,” the PBA president, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a statement following the votes. “For years, Mayor de Blasio has demonized police officers and undermined our efforts to protect our city. For years, Commissioner O’Neill has cravenly acquiesced to the Mayor and his anti-cop allies.”
Following the officer’s firing, Mr. O’Neill was subjected to fierce blowback from Mr. Lynch who said the Commissioner had caved to demands from Mr. de Blasio that Mr. Pantaleo be dismissed without his pension.
Thought They Had Deal
Mr. Lynch and the Officer’s lawyer, Stuart London, said they had agreed with “the highest-ranking member connected to O’Neill”—presumably Chief of Department Terence Monahan—that Mr. Pantaleo would resign in exchange for a vested pension he would begin receiving in seven years, upon reaching the 20th anniversary of his hiring in 2006. That arrangement also would have sparred Mr. O’Neill from making a decision he said gave him “no pleasure” and which he indicated would cost him some support with rank-and-file cops.
Mr. Lynch ripped into the Commissioner about 90 minutes after the firing. He continued his pointed critiques of both Mr. O’Neill and Mayor de Blasio following the delegates’ vote.
The resolution calling for Mr. de Blasio’s firing by the Governor among other things stated that the Mayor had cultivated anti-police sentiments and failed to address what the PBA contended was “the enormous wage disparity” between what its members are paid compared to those in neighboring jurisdictions. It also said he had “engaged in a sustained effort to deceive the public regarding crime and enforcement...by distorting or misrepresenting official statistics in order to obscure troubling public safety trends.”
And by supporting “the unjustified termination” of Officer Pantaleo, the Mayor “has also dealt a staggering blow to police officers...destroy[ed] morale and discourage[ed] NYPD members of every rank from proactively addressing crime and disorder.”
O’Neill ‘Abandoned Values’
The resolution demanding that Mr. O’Neill be fired asserts that he has “abandoned the ideals and values of New York City police officers and betrayed the trust of every member of the NYPD, by failing to adequately defend the NYPD and its members from the endless onslaught of demonization and anti-police rhetoric.”
He also “yielded to inappropriate pressure from anti-police advocates and elected officials, as well as unlawful interference from Mayor Bill de Blasio” when he fired the Officer, according to the resolution.
“The unjust termination of P.O. Daniel Pantaleo was merely the final straw: both men have displayed an appalling pattern of malfeasance and nonfeasance that disqualifies them from continuing to serve in their current offices,” he said. “Neither can hope to regain the trust or confidence of New York City police officers. They must resign or be fired.”
PBA delegates are directly elected precinct- and command-level representatives of the nearly 25,000 NYPD Police Officers.
The last time the PBA delegates issued a no-confidence vote was 20 years ago, when they unanimously called on then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to suspend then-Commissioner Howard Safir on the grounds that several conflict-of-interest and abuse-of-authority charges levelled at the Commissioner were undermining rank-and-file cops.
Those were merely among the reasons for the April 13, 1999 vote, which also was unanimous. But in fact a groundswell of opposition had been building among cops opposed to the NYPD’s “zero-tolerance” policing model.
The union’s leader at the time, James “Doc” Savage, had called Mr. Safir’s policing method’s —and by extension Mr. Giuliani’s—“a blueprint for a police state and tyranny.”
He urged cops to exercise restraint on the job. He also said officers would not be dictated to by summons and arrest quotas.
"I think we should get back to community policing, building up relationships with the communities we serve,” he told this newspaper at the time.
‘Totally Negative’ Tone
The exaggerated enforcement tactics in minority communities advocated by Mr. Safir, “prevents us from building credit and confidence with the public,” Mr. Savage said on another occasion. “Now the public’s primary encounter with Police Officers is totally negative.”
Mr. Safir countered that the union leader’s rhetoric was just so much campaign bluster—Mr. Savage was facing three opponents in his bid for a full term as PBA president two months after the no-confidence vote. Mr. Safir said he hoped the union would “get a leadership that can ensure that Police officers are properly compensated” and endorsed James Higgins, who wound up running last in that contest.
Mr. Savage could do no better than second best.
The victor? Patrick J. Lynch.
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