New York City police union leaders said Wednesday they rejected Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership after emerging from a meeting with the city’s police commissioner, suggesting the mayor’s effort to mend his unusually deep rift with police was failing.
The meeting with Commissioner William Bratton came only hours after de Blasio conceded he was still unable to say whether officers in the nation’s largest police force had embarked on a widespread work slowdown in the two weeks since two policemen were ambushed and killed.
The number of arrests and court summonses has plummeted since the attack, with some police precincts recording a statistically improbable zero tickets for misdemeanors, suggesting many officers are ignoring all but the most urgent crimes.
“We don’t believe that there is a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems,” Patrick Lynch, the president of the city’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Lynch said he was also speaking on behalf of the other four police unions representing detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains.
“So we as union leaders will take the time to sit down and discuss these issues and come up with solutions to them,” the statement continued, stopping just short of saying they had given up on talks with the mayor. “We wish there was a leader in City Hall.”
While it is not unusual for union leaders to speak witheringly of a mayor, City Hall officials have been unable to point to any precedent for hundreds of uniformed cops turning their backs on the mayor in disdain, as happened three times in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, de Blasio, who has filled his recent speeches with effusive praise for police, told reporters he disagreed with the suggestion by NYPD union leaders that he should apologize for his remarks and said it was too soon to tell if there was a police slowdown.
“We’re going to let this week pass,” he said, “and at the end of this week, we will make judgments and we will act accordingly.”
De Blasio deflected a question about a report that the two officers injured in the Bronx Tuesday whom he visited at the hospital “weren’t eager” to see him.
“I respect the choice of any officer or any family in their own personal circumstance to have any approach they want,” he said. “My approach is, I went to the hospital to provide support. It’s up to individuals how they want to handle that.”