Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch today denied reports members of the NYPD are involved in a deliberate and illegal work slowdown, and claimed instead that the precipitous decline in arrests and summonses in the past weeks is the result of officers having to escort anti-police demonstrators around the city.
Mr. Lynch argued that the police force has long needed 6,000 additional uniformed officers—whom his union would represent—and alleged that police resources have been drawn away from precincts due to the protesters who have swamped the city streets in reaction to Staten Island and Missouri grand jury decisions not to indict police involved in the killing of black civilians. Statistics in the past few weeks show summonses, a major source of revenue for the city, are down as much as 90 percent from a year ago while arrests are down more than 50 percent.
“What gets lost a lot of times is when there’s a demonstration in the city or a parade in the city or a festival or anything, the police officers have to come from the neighborhood precincts,” Mr. Lynch told the Observer. “And that, with the shortage of police officers, you got the circumstances that we’re in now, and then you add that we have to send hundreds if not thousands of police officers from the neighborhood to cover the demonstrations, that affects the precincts as well. That exposes what we’ve been talking out about, is this short-staffing of the police department.”
Mr. Lynch added that the city had eliminated solo police patrols and pulled radio cars from the street in the aftermath of the murders of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos last month. The union head has also encouraged his members to take additional safety measures while on the job.
“We just went through a period where two police officers were assassinated on the street. We haven’t seen that sort of thing since the ’70s. Where we are now is we have to do a couple of things. We have to protect ourselves so we can protect the public,” he said. “We have to reprogram the police department to say, number one, you have to protect yourself, because if you can’t protect yourself you can’t protect the public. And that’s our main role.”
He denied, however, that his calls for his members to follow the department’s rulebook—which is more than 1,000 pages long—to the letter constituted a call for a slowdown. The 1967 state Taylor Law forbids public employees from taking part in “job-related actions.”
“We told our members, it’s a safety issue, protect yourself. The department creates those rules to protect yourself, and we’re saying, follow them. Protect yourself. We’re using them effectively. And especially since if you don’t go by the rules, they’re quick to discipline you for not going by the rules,” he said. “So we’re saying first off be safe, second off make sure you’re not getting disciplined, those rules are there for a reason. It’s not a slowdown, it’s doing your job effectively, the way they want you to do it. It’s what we should be doing. The department made those rules for a reason, use them.”
Mr. Lynch noted that two police officers were shot on the job in the Bronx last night.
“A robbery came over and police officers ran right out. It was the end of their tour. They could’ve run right out and got in the car and gone home,” he said. “But no, they ran out and they ended up getting shot doing their job. That’s not a slowdown. That’s doing their job.”