Any New York City police officers refusing to make arrests or issue traffic violations to express their dissatisfaction with Mayor Bill de Blasio will face forceful consequences, the department’s top cop said Monday.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference that while he is not convinced the NYPD's rank-and-file is engaging in an organized work slowdown, he is actively investigating a dramatic drop in arrests in recent weeks and will deal swiftly with any intentional slacking off.
“We’re watching that very closely,” Bratton said Monday of the dip in summonses and arrests. He’s ordering a “comprehensive review of what has been happening,” drilling down to the precinct and squad car level to determine who is working and who may be dropping the ball.
The number of summonses in the city is down 90 percent for the week ending Sunday, according to the Daily News, while arrests are down 56 percent compared to the year before.
The steep drop in arrests follows several public incidents in which hundreds of police officers turned their backs to the mayor. They first turned as the mayor arrived at a New York City hospital after the killing of two cops, Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos, by a man apparently seeking revenge for two deaths involving police officers, those of Ferguson, Mo., teenager Michael Brown and of Eric Garner of Staten Island, N.Y.
The officers turned their backs again, first at Ramos's funeral and then at Liu's funeral this Sunday, to express their dissatisfaction with de Blasio's treatment of the NYPD. De Blasio’s critics have charged that the mayor inflamed anti-police tensions by sympathizing with those protesting the treatment of Brown and Garner.
“At this time, I would not use the term slowdown,” Bratton said. But he added that if he determines that the drop in arrests is part of an organized effort on the part of police, “we will deal with it very forcefully.”.
The commissioner stressed that the drop in summonses and arrests had not yet led to an increase in crime. On Monday, the mayor and Bratton announced a 4.6 percent decline in major crimes last year as compared to the year before.
“We’re not in a public safety crisis in New York City, by any stretch of the imagination,” Bratton said.
De Blasio, who has repeatedly praised the police department in recent weeks, said he believed it was too soon to consider the trend a deliberate slowdown.
“We need to see a little time pass before we can draw conclusions,” De Blasio said.
Both Bratton and the mayor both criticized the officers who turned their backs Sunday.
“They were disrespectful to the family involved, that’s the bottom line,” De Blasio said of the hundreds of officers who turned their backs to him at Liu’s funeral on Sunday. Bratton said the officers “embarrassed themselves” by making a political statement in the middle of a funeral.
Last month, de Blasio called for a moratorium on protests against excessive use of police force until after both officers had been buried. Now that they have both been laid to rest, protests are likely to resume. The city has spent $35 million so far to police the demonstrations, according to the department.