Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neil completed their tour of the city's 2017 National Night Out celebrations in Staten Island. (Staten Island Advance/Paul Liotta)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- New York City’s largest police union released two votes of no confidence Wednesday against the mayor and police commissioner, and called for an end to their times in office.
The Police Benevolent Association’s delegation reached the unanimous decisions after the organization’s President Pat Lynch said last week that a vote would be held following the firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the death of Eric Garner.
In resolutions signed by the 27-member delegation, the PBA expressed its lack of confidence in Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio, called on the commissioner to resign, and for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use his power to remove the mayor from office.
Mayoral spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said the resolutions were part of a PBA effort to divide the city.
“Under this mayor and Police Commissioner, our officers and the communities they serve are closer than ever and the city is the safest it’s ever been,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “That isn’t changing.”
Mayor de Blasio’s administration has continued the downward crime trend started in the early 1990s.
While major crimes like murder, rape and robbery are down this year, when compared to the same time period in 2018, shooting incidents and victims are up in the city, according to the latest data available from CompStat.
In a statement, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phillip Walzak said the department stands with his officers, and voiced support for O’Neill.
“The dedicated women and men of the NYPD are out there each and every day, serving the public proudly and keeping the city safe,” Walzak wrote in an emailed statement. “As the Police Commissioner has said before, his heart and soul are with the NYPD, and he is honored to lead this Department as it continues to drive crime to historically low levels.”
The governor’s office did not return requests for comment by the time of publication.
Both resolutions point to what the union sees as multiple failings on the parts of de Blasio and O’Neill apart from just the Pantaleo decision, including the recent spate of suicides among members of the NYPD.
“New York City police officers are experiencing an acute mental health crisis, which has already resulted in the death by suicide of nine NYPD members -- including six members of the Association -- in 2019,” the union’s resolution against de Blasio read.
“Mayor de Blasio and his administration have made absolutely no effort to address the policies and conditions that are contributing to this crisis.”
THEY’VE DONE IT BEFORE
This isn’t the first time the union has reached such a vote. In 2004, the organization issued a vote of no confidence against then-Commissioner Ray Kelly after he said there was no justification for an officer’s shooting of 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury on a Bedford-Stuyvesant rooftop.
The officer told the grand jury, which declined to indict him, that he accidentally discharged his weapon when Stansbury startled him by opening a rooftop door.
At the time, the union called Kelly’s comments premature, and called on him to resign. He did not.
Lynch, the longest serving PBA president, promised to hold the vote at an Aug. 19 press conference, and released a letter sent to members of the union that laid out a series of advisements for cops to follow should they become involved in contentious situations with the public.
Those advisements include requesting response from patrol supervisors in possible arrest situations, and from EMS when any level of physical force is used.
“We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed reckless just for doing their job,” Lynch said at the press conference. “We will uphold our oath, but we cannot and will not do so by needlessly jeopardizing our careers or personal safety.”
Lynch and the union’s executive board were unanimously re-elected without opposition in June.