Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that everyone must follow laws, but he won’t question his drivers’ judgment after video footage showed his official vehicle breaking several traffic regulations as he sat in the front seat.
De Blasio’s two-SUV caravan was captured on video Thursday speeding, running through a pair of stop signs and changing lanes without signaling. A member of the mayor’s NYPD security team was behind the wheel.
“No one is above the law,” de Blasio said Monday in his first comments about the incident. “But I think that is a very different question from the question of security of someone who is protected by the NYPD. I think those issues should be separate.”
De Blasio had avoided reporters’ questions about the incident. In the hours after CBS released its footage, the mayor’s office deferred to the NYPD, which released a statement saying the mayor’s drivers were foremost charged to protect de Blasio.
Police Commissioner William Bratton reaffirmed that Friday, saying he was “unconcerned” with the footage. Later that day, de Blasio said he was “comfortable” with what Bratton had said and refused to take questions from the press, departing a news conference to shouts from disbelieving reporters.
De Blasio insisted Monday that the footage of this SUV’s flouting traffic laws does not undermine his traffic safety plan, which he released just two days before. That proposal, dubbed “Vision Zero,” aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities by reducing the citywide speed limit to 25 mph, detailing more NYPD officers to enforce speeding violations and toughening penalties for speeding drivers.
“I owe the people a vision which I put forward last year and am acting on this year,” said a testy de Blasio after an unrelated press conference on Staten Island. “I don’t tell the NYPD how to do their work when it comes to protecting me.”
The mayor has come under increased scrutiny for a series of recent decisions, including his choice to keep schools open during a recent fierce snowstorm and the call he made to the NYPD after an arrest of a political ally. He dismissed the recent flaps as “sideshows” and insisted that he knows that careful examination — and sometimes accompanying criticism — “comes with the territory.”
“This is part of decision-making in a high-scrutiny environment,” de Blasio said Monday. “And, you know, if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I can take the heat.”