Mayor Bill de Blasio met with five police union heads on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to improve increasingly hostile relations between the two groups. While no press was allowed inside the conference room of the Police Academy in College Point, Queens, sources told the New York Daily News that the two and a half hour meeting “was adversarial at times, cooperative and respectful at times, but not collegial.”
That there was “no yelling” is a positive development, considering that Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch had previously said that de Blasio “has blood on his hands” for the death of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, and that the NYPD literally turned its backs on the mayor at Ramos’s funeral over the weekend. Since the death of the officers, NYPD activity has all but halted.
However, if police union leaders were looking for an apology for perceived affronts — which include de Blasio’s public support of peaceful Eric Garner protests and his statement acknowledging that his biracial son could be racially profiled by cops — they did not find one. “He didn’t apologize,” the source said of de Blasio. “He’s not going to apologize.” Instead, “both sides agreed to disagree about who disrespected who first.”
During the meeting, de Blasio reportedly attempted to establish common ground with the unions by expressing support for the broken-windows policy and “his reservations about a City Council bill that would make the police chokehold that killed Garner illegal.” Spokesman Phil Walzak released the following statement to press after the meeting:
“Today’s meeting focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together,” his statement 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.”
Lynch, de Blasio’s most vocal critic, said this:
“We came together today because our main concern is for the safety of New York City police officers and the safety of the citizens of New York, who we proudly serve and protect,” he said. “There were conversations on a number of issues but no resolution on any. Actions speak louder than words, and we’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, both police and city officials are braced for another night of protests in New York City.
(Photo: Kevin Case)