Police officers in New York City are finally calling out Mayor Bill de Blasio for his anti-police attitude.
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“Mayor de Blasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you!” tweeted the NYPD sergeants’ union. “We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you…This isn’t over, Game on!”
The comments follow two assassination attempts this weekend: one against two officers in a marked patrol van and another inside the 41st Precinct’s nation house. Two officers were injured in the attacks, but there were no fatalities.
The gunman, who was responsible for both attacks, was taken into custody and identified as Robert Williams, an ex-con who served 15 years for an attempted murder conviction from a 2002 shooting. In that case, Williams stole a vehicle, crashed it, and then engaged in a shootout with police. He was released on parole in 2017.
This week, Williams was charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon, and resisting arrest.
“These targeted attacks are exactly what we have warned against, again and again,” says New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. “The hatred and violence directed at cops continues to grow. Good luck and kind words are not enough to keep police officers or the public safe. Our elected officials need to start listening to us and working with us – not against us – to fix the deteriorating environment on our streets.”
De Blasio’s office issued a statement describing the union’s comments as “reprehensible,” while de Blasio himself praised the “heroism and extraordinary skill” of the officers who were able to bring Williams into custody.
“This vicious assassination attempt is the second one we’ve seen in 24 hours – and an attack on our NYPD officers is an attack on all New Yorkers,” said de Blasio. “This despicable hatred is an attempt to divide our city and undermine our safety. We cannot and will not let that happen.”
Unfortunately, the division about which de Blasio speaks has already happened as a result of state and local policies that make officers’ lives more difficult. Foremost among these policies is the designation of New York City as a sanctuary city, which means cops are told not to cooperate with ICE. Last month, a 92-year-old woman was raped by an illegal immigrant who was released from custody even though ICE sought to deport him.
In 2017, de Blasio announced plans to close the jails on Rikers Island and reduce the jail population to 5,000, transitioning inmates to a borough-based system. In 2019, state lawmakers voted to end cash bail for most criminal suspects. De Blasio has also overseen the continuing decrease of stop and frisk.
In the meantime, robberies are up 39% YoY, shootings are up 29%, and car theft is up 72%. These increases “are the result of failed leadership and a political culture that denigrates and devalues the work police officers do,” argues Lynch.
The attacks against police officers could be related to recent protests against excessive use of force by police, notes Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
“These things are not unrelated…Anyone who spews hatred at our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere,” says Shea. “You could protest for whatever you believe in, but you cannot vilely attack those who are here to protect us. It creates this kind of dynamic.”