Last week I noted two events which threw a wrench into the prevailing narrative about the war the NYPD – or at least key members of the union leadership – has been waging against the city’s mayor. First there was a poll showing the city’s population overwhelmingly opposed calculated displays of contempt like turning backs on the Mayor during officers’ funerals – despite city residents approving of the police department in general. Then there was news about a fiery union meeting in Queens at which Lynch’s critics claimed he’d led them into a dead-end with an ego driven pissing-match with the Mayor that gave short shrift to their actual needs. Now it turns out Lynch’s position is worse than I’d imagined and he’s blinked in his demand for an apology from the Mayor.
On Friday the Daily News got a hold of a partial audio tape of the union meeting in Queens. It captures the gist of what had already been reported. But the verbatim quotes add to the picture.
“I wanna know was this all in vain? It sounds like a temper tantrum,” one union delegate tells Lynch. “If it’s a temper tantrum let’s move on with our lives … Can we get something to protect the officers out of this? I don’t need the mayor to apologize .. Where’s the safety? Do we have some more radio cars? Computers that work? Our faded vests?”
And then Sunday, the Daily News reported on a union memo in which Lynch now claims he never demanded an apology from the Mayor in the first place. “Despite statements to the contrary, our demands have never been for a simple apology, but for clear and unequivocal expressions of support for our members and an equally strong condemnation of those who have stirred up hatred and violence towards police officers.” For anyone who’s been paying attention, this claim is ludicrous. Indeed, the union reps at the meeting in Queens focused on he demand for an apology as the centerpiece of Lynch’s whole campaign against the Mayor.
I’m curious how much the lack of public support for the campaign Lynch has led has played into the rebellion he appears to be facing among his members. I would assume the latter is independent of the former but being accentuated by it. The needs of the police rank and file ultimately depend on public support. And Lynch is so unpopular and frankly toxic at this point that even Al Sharpton snarked at his poll numbers – despite the fact that the same poll showed Sharpton sharing billing with Lynch as the most unpopular figures in the post-Garner, post-police murder storm.
“I’m very happy with the poll,” Sharpton told the Daily News. “And even on the general poll, it had me 11 points above Lynch. I think that if anyone is disappointed, it’s him. I think that the poll if anything shows the tale of two cities. You have so many in the black community supporting what we do, so many in the white community that don’t. . . . The only one who flunked in every area was Lynch. No communities did he win in.”
In other words, it’s a polarized city. The African-American community supports me. Everybody hates Pat Lynch.
There have been a number of reports that Lynch’s hold on the rank and file is slipping. And according to Reuters, a group of union leaders is planning to announce a challenge to Lynch in the next union elections to held in June.
I’m curious to see how that goes and equally interested to see how the demographic changes in the NYPD since Lynch was first elected in 1999 may play into the outcome. If anyone has insights into the upcoming PBA election, please drop me a line.