National News

Police Union Is Sending Officers to Iowa to Protest de Blasio

Posted December 18, 2017 10:10 p.m. EST

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s police detail will not be the only officers from the New York Police Department in Iowa on Tuesday.

New York’s biggest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is sending about a dozen officers to protest de Blasio in Des Moines, where he is headed to burnish his image on the national stage.

“We can’t allow him to go to Iowa and try to stand on the mantle of being progressive and pro-labor when we know the truth is different,” Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the association, said in an interview. “So we’re going out there to tell our sisters and brothers: Don’t be fooled.”

Lynch said the union, which is in contract talks with City Hall, planned to have members wave signs, hand out leaflets and stand outside as the mayor delivers a speech on Tuesday night. He referred to the mayor as “the two-faced Bill de Blasio.”

Austin Finan, a spokesman for de Blasio, said, “We’re more than fine with their protests and wish them safe travels.”

“Those at the center of our successful efforts to reduce crime to historic lows deserve a fair contract,” Finan added. “We’re confident mediation will get us there, just like it did last time and just like we’ve done with nearly the entire city workforce.”

The mayor’s office and the police union have sparred throughout much of de Blasio tenure, with tension dating to 2013, when de Blasio campaigned zealously against stop-and-frisk police tactics, which he said disproportionately and wrongly targeted minorities.

In 2014, de Blasio’s first year in office, Lynch said there was blood on the mayor’s hands after two police officers were gunned down in a racially charged ambush in Brooklyn. Some officers turned their backs on the mayor at the funerals.

Crime rates have fallen to new lows during the mayor’s tenure even amid disagreements with the police unions.

The city and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association agreed on a contract this year, but that deal — which granted officers raises of more than 11 percent — was retroactive to 2012 and expired in July. Members of the PBA are again working without a contract.

Lynch has objected to City Hall’s opening offer, which he dismissed as “outrageous.”

“He’s offered 3 1/2 years of zeros, absolutely no raises for New York City police officers,” Lynch said of de Blasio.

In addition, the City Council this week is expected to take up a package of police-related legislation that the mayor supports and the union opposes. One measure would require officers to provide information to many of the people they stop on the street, including handing them a business card and providing the reason for questioning. The other would require consent before certain searches.

Lynch said the union would quite likely follow de Blasio wherever his political ambitions take him. (Lynch himself is skipping the Iowa trip to remain in New York for a man’s sentencing for killing an officer in 2015.)

“We’ve woke him up in the morning and put him to bed at night,” Lynch said of the mayor. “And we’ve met him at the gym, because it seems he spends an awful lot of time at the gym rather than at City Hall. Our members get up early and he doesn’t, so we’re out there waiting for him.”

“We’re going to pop up,” Lynch added, “where he pops up.”