In 2013, de Blasio ran for the Office of the Mayor of New York City. A liberal Democrat, de Blasio’s campaign portrayed New York as a “tale of two cities”—one rich and prosperous, the other poor and neglected. His platform advocated for taxing the rich to finance programs for the seemingly poor. His message of the “have nots” should take from the “haves” resonated and he was sworn in as New York City’s 109th Mayor. He also campaigned stating that he would end Police abuses. De Blasio campaigned for Mayor by blasting former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s “over-the-top” stop-and-frisk policy. De Blasio purported that in the 12 years it was active, the policy led to 4 million stops of black and Hispanic young men, which was an unfair practice bordering on systemic racism.
In his first year as Mayor, many Police Officers felt that de Blasio had demonized the NYPD. Despite his repeated attempts at public praise for Cops and the difficult jobs they do, they felt his actions belied his words.
In the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri Police shooting in 2014, Mayor de Blasio made a very public comment that showed his “mistrust” of the NYPD, using his bi-racial son, Dante, as an example. As reported by www.reuters.com.
“Because of a history that still hangs over us [and] the dangers that he may face, we’ve had to literally train him as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with police officers, who are there to protect him. …There’s so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods, but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in, as their protectors?”
Obviously, this comment angered many dedicated Officers in the NYPD. Mayor de Blasio seemed to be going out of his way to make a political point. His remarks led NYPD PBA Union President Patrick Lynch to say the Mayor was throwing Cops “under the bus,” and that he would not be welcome at any future police funeral.
At around the same time in 2014, NYPD Officers made an arrest of a man named Eric Garner in Staten Island. It was widely reported that NYPD officers approached Garner on suspicion of selling “loosies” (single cigarettes) from packs without tax stamps. It was reported that when Officer Daniel Pantaleo took Garner’s wrist behind his back, Garner swatted his arms away. As per the video shot on site during the arrest by an unknown party, Pantaleo then put his arm around Garner and pulled him backwards and down onto the ground. Eric Garner stated that he couldn’t breathe and passed out. After Garner lost consciousness, Officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital approximately one hour later.
Officer Pantaleo faced severe scrutiny from the public and de Blasio’s Administration. On December 3, 2014, the Richmond County Grand Jury decided not to indict Pantaleo. The event stirred public protests and rallies, with charges of Police brutality made by protesters. Police Commissioner Bratton, active at the time, announced that the protesters will not cause public disturbances, block traffic and take over New York City. Unfortunately, the events that unfolded made Commissioner Bratton’s words very hollow.
What chilled me to the bone was watching a group of marchers on the TV news, shouting,
“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? NOW!”
The rhetoric became real when other marchers attacked two NYPD Lieutenants on the Brooklyn Bridge and beat them to the ground.
Sadly, in the midst of the mistrust in the NYPD, the unthinkable happened. NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were bushwhacked and murdered on December 20, 2014 while in their marked patrol car. Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, 28, executed both Officers while on-duty in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Brinsley escaped via the NYC Subway system where he committed suicide. This was the tipping point for the NYPD.
As de Blasio and his entourage walked through the third-floor corridor of Brooklyn’s Woodhull Hospital, where Officers Ramos and Liu had been pronounced dead hours earlier, dozens of NYPD Officers silently turned their backs on the Mayor in protest for his lack of support for them.
As the friction builds between de Blasio’s Administration and the NYPD, the crime rate in New York City went up dramatically, despite the Administration’s assurances that New York is “okey-dokey”.
Fast forward to July 1, 2020: In the middle of the wide-spread shutdown across local, State and Federal governmental agencies because of COVID-19, Bill de Blasio did the unthinkable. He, along with the members of the City Council reallocated roughly one billion dollars from the NYPD Budget to other agencies, literally answering the calls for “defunding the Police” that was the rage amongst radicals across the Country, using the tragic death of George Floyd as their springboard to insanity. As he stated in the press briefing held after the vote,
“We are reducing the size of our police force by not having the next recruit class. We are reducing our overtime levels. We’re shifting functions away from police to civilian agencies. We think it’s the right thing to do. It will take work. It will take effort and we’re going to be reforming that work in the meantime,”
The last slap in the face to the residents of New York who value public safety was the COVID Vaccine mandate for all uniformed City employees, including the NYPD. As of November 1, there are roughly nine thousand Police and Firefighters that are off the job, leaving the city unprotected.
Crime rates in NYC as taken from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/news/pr0603/nypd-citywide-crime-statistics-may-2021 :
“For the month of May 2021, overall index crime in New York City rose 22% compared with May 2020, driven by a 46.7% increase in robbery (1,182 v. 806) and a 35.6% increase in grand larceny (2,848 v. 2,101). Felony assault saw a 20.5% increase compared to May 2020 (1,979 v. 1,643), and shooting incidents increased to 173 v. 100 in May 2020 (+73%), There were 37 murders in May 2021, the same as May 2020.”
I am writing this article on Election Day, 2021. New York City residents are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Bill de Blasio cannot run for another term, but there have been rumors brewing that he plans to run for Governor of New York State. What a bone chilling nightmare that may be. As for the local race, I hope that whomever wins the Mayoral race will take active steps to secure public safety for all the residents of that once great city.