The man leading the charge against Mayor Bill de Blasio and his response to the murders of two police officers is up for re-election — a detail that has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers, City Hall insiders tell Metro.
Patrick Lynch, the four-term president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is again poised to win uncontested leadership of the city’s largest law enforcement union, even as the group has gone without a contract since 2010 and tensions with lawmakers are at a new high.
No one Metro spoke with questioned Lynch’s commitment to his 24,000 members. Still, sources in City Hall told Metro Lynch’s re-election bid has been a subject of discussion long before the Dec. 20 murders of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn.
Even before tensions between the PBA and City Hall escalated after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s death, leaders of other police unions had a better position for negotiating on police reforms with City Hall, a senior City Council staffer told Metro.
The relationship between Mayor Bill de Blasio and police union only worsened after Liu and Ramos were murdered.
Lynch was among the cops who turned their backs on de Blasio in Woodhull Hospital after Liu and Ramos died, almost immediately accusing de Blasio and protesters of creating an environment that led to the cop killings.
“That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor,” Lynch said, earning approval from peers months ahead of the election next spring.
“Lynch’s response is so emotional that you have to wonder if he put self-interest aside,” said Kenneth Sherrill, an emeritus political science professor at Hunter College.
“If you’re very cynical, you could believe he did it to distract members,” Sherrill added, “But the grief was so bad, he couldn’t hold back.”
Lynch was first elected in 1999 during the Giuliani administration as a beat cop in Williamsburg. Locking horns at one point or another with Mayors Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg and now de Blasio, Lynch won the last two PBA elections in 2011 and in 2007 unopposed.
The lack of a contract between the PBA and the city remains one of the biggest battles since Bloomberg’s final term and now de Blasio’s first. In August, the union entered into arbitration with the administration while releasing a major ad campaign asking, “When will our city support us?”
A spokesman for the PBA did not respond to Metro’s requests for comment, but Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that Lynch faces no opposition in the upcoming election.
It’s unlikely a peacemaker will emerge to challenge Lynch now, said Sherrill. “A challenger saying he’ll be nicer to the mayor can’t get him very far.”
Any challenge to Lynch would have to be based on his record, and Lynch’s record of support for his members is clear, said John Jay professor and retired NYPD detective Joseph Giacalone.
“Emotions are high, but it’s been bubbling for over a year,” Giacalone said.
Giacalone pointed to de Blasio’s record on police matters ranging from his support of a settlement for the Central Park Five case to his response to former City Hall aide Rachel Noerdlinger’s relationship with man who once called police “pigs” on Facebook.
“Everyone starts to get riled up to show they are there for their members,” Giacalone said.
Regardless of Lynch’s motivations or even if he wins for a fifth time next year, Sherrill said PBA members do and will have to learn to work with de Blasio — at least until the 2017 mayoral elections and perhaps a second term.
The question remains, he said: “What is the PBA going to do to regain the mayor’s confidence?”