Weeks of rancor between police officers and City Hall have not fazed NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.
“I have not lost control of this department,” Bratton told Metro in an interview Tuesday evening.
Caught in the crossfire between police unions that accuse Bratton’s boss of abandoning them, and protesters seeking to reform the NYPD, New York’s twice-appointed top cop held firm that his officers are doing their jobs and doing them well.
The NYPD has been meeting New Yorkers’ “very high expectations” and delivering on its promise to make the city safer, he said, pointing to 20 years of plummeting crime rates. On Monday Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced crime fell 4.6 percent in 2014.
Murders fell from 1,561 in 1994 to 332 last year.
But recent protests by officers who blame him and Mayor Bill de Blasio for undermining public support for the NYPD have hurt the “public image of the department.”
“This is a great organization,” Bratton said. “It has its issues at the moment, issues that I am very confident we will work through.”
“Cops have a 20-year career,” he said. “The issues of the moment are not going to last 20 years.”
On Sunday, hundreds of officers attending a funeral for slain cop Wenjian Liu turned their backs on the Mayor for a second time in two weeks, ignoring a formal request from Bratton to refrain from protesting at the ceremony.
“They were off duty,” Bratton said. Off-duty officers — even while in uniform as thousands were for the funerals for Liu and his partner Rafael Ramos — are allowed to mourn however they choose.
De Blasio has been scorned by many cops, especially Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, for meeting with police critics before talking to unions and for telling the public he had urged his bi-racial teenage son Dante to be wary of police.
Bratton on Monday said the behavior of cops who’d turned had disappointed him, and told reporters the officers had “embarrassed themselves.”
Bratton sat with Lynch and other police union leaders late Wednesday in a closed-door meeting sources said was primarily about officer safety after two officers in the Bronx were shot in a robbery gone wrong on Monday night.
Following the meeting, Lynch spoke on behalf of the five main police unions outside of One Police Plaza to blame the mayor and City Council.
“The problem was not created here at headquarters, it started at City Hall,” Lynch said. “We don’t believe that there is a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems.”
Lynch later added: “The other solutions will come from the leaders who are here…we wish there was a leader in City Hall.”
Lynch was among the group of officers that first turned their backs on de Blasio at Woodhull Hospital on Dec. 20 hours after officers Liu and Ramos died after they were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn.
Bratton told Metro the deaths of Liu and Ramos were the hardest moment of his first year back.
By Wednesday morning, Bratton beamed as 891 new officers were sworn in at a ceremony in Queens. He had the newest members of the NYPD, which hail from 49 different countries and speak 40 different languages, to work as a team and prepare for a constantly changing world.
“Don’t blow it,” he warned the new recruits. “Don’t blow this opportunity.”