Still angry about a lower-than-hoped-for pay raise, members of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association this morning tried to hit Mayor Bill de Blasio where it hurts: in Park Slope. The mayor famously returns to his old neighborhood/comfort blanket several days a week, having his police detail drive him the 11 miles from Gracie Mansion to the Prospect Park YMCA for a low-impact workout, typically arriving at around 9 a.m. As a New York Times reporter observed recently in a deep dive look at the mayor's exercise habits, "[I]t is, in many respects, a routine that most busy people can only dream of."
Today, the solitude was shattered by dozens of protesters from the NYPD's largest union, representing rank-and-file officers, chanting, "One-term mayor!" and, "Pay us now, work out later!"
"We have the work ethic. And you see it on the street each and every day," PBA president and mouthpiece Pat Lynch told Fox5. "We want the mayor to do the same. So we understand that he's running government from the gym. So we'll be over at the gym when he leaves Gracie Mansion."
City Hall and the union had been deadlocked in contract negotiations for years when PBA brass requested arbitration. In November 2015, the Public Employment Relations Board ruled that the officers should receive a 1 percent pay raise per year, which evidently is lower than the union wanted.
Since then, Lynch has accused arbitrator Howard Edelman of ethics violations, and sent cops to protest outside his house, according to the Daily News. This morning's demonstration followed de Blasio to Colson Patisserie, another old neighborhood haunt that the mayor still visits during his frequent detours to Park Slope.
A PBA spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the protest is meant to kick off several weeks of demonstrations against the mayor. Former cop and John Jay College professor Eugene O'Donnell told the paper that officers know they're not getting a higher raise, but they're pissed at de Blasio's perceived lack of support for police.
"The police are always up in arms, but they’re especially up in arms now," he said. "The tools are limited because they can’t strike. If they could strike, they’d be on strike now. They’ll do anything they can to damage him."
— Anthony DelMundo (@AnthonyDelMundo) August 2, 2016
Rank-and-file cops famously turned their backs on the mayor a year and a half ago during funerals for officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were murdered by a troubled transient angry about police killings of unarmed black men. De Blasio campaigned for mayor as an opponent of stop-and-frisk, and in response to the police killing of Eric Garner, shared that he'd had "the talk" with his son Dante, who shares his mother's African ancestry, about how to interact with police officers so as to avoid harm.
On a practical level, though, de Blasio has ceded control of the police department to his commissioner, Bill Bratton, who announced his resignation today. Under Bratton, recorded crime has remained at a record low. Last year, after de Blasio had said he opposed hiring 1,000 new cops, he backed down and then some, agreeing to bring on 1,300 more officers. And last month, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose position de Blasio aggressively maneuvered for, unilaterally shelved a pair of police reform bills that had broad Council support. Police reform advocates believe that she was trying to spare de Blasio the embarrassment of vetoing widely supported legislation that would further police accountability.
Bratton had called a larger package of police bills "unprecedented intrusions" into police decision-making.