New York, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio accused his city’s police unions of being racist during a media briefing on Tuesday and said the rank-and-file should trust the New York Police Department (NYPD).
However, officers have said they don’t trust the mayor or their department anymore.
On Monday evening, three New York Police Department (NYPD) officers working in lower Manhattan became sick after being served tainted milkshakes at a Shake Shack at Broadway and Fulton Street.
The police union released a statement at 10:47 p.m. on June 15 that said NYPD officers assigned to the protest detail had been sickened by something they ingested from the fast food restaurant.
“At some point during their meal period, the [police officers] discovered that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,” the NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) tweeted.
“When New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that the environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level,” the statement continued. “We cannot let our guard down for even a moment.
The officers were transported to a hospital for treatment and multiple unions tweeted warnings to officers to be careful.
Just a few hours later, NYPD announced that the uniformed officers were not intentionally poisoned.
“After a thorough investigation by the NYPD’s Manhattan South investigators, it has been determined that there was no criminality by Shake Shack’s employees,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted just after 4 a.m. Tuesday.
The unions retracted the prior night’s tweets, but the mayor blasted union leadership anyway in a media briefing on Tuesday.
He also attacked NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) President Ed Mullins for retweeting a post by former Alabama senator and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions bashing his opponent for wanting to erase Confederate history.
“Look, the SBA leadership has engaged in racist activities so many times I can’t even count it,” the mayor’s rant began. “And anybody who is tweeting in favor of Confederate monuments is supporting the structural racist history of this country.”
“I’m just sick of it,” de Blasio continued. “I’ve been sick of it for years. I’ve been fighting with these unions from Day One. I am fighting with them today. And I don’t like to be fighting with any labor union… I believe in the labor movement.”
“But what I’ve seen from the SBA in particular, and too often from the PBA, is efforts to divide us, to hold us back, to create all sorts of negativity, to push back progress, to undermine efforts at unity… they’re absolutely, it’s literally anti-social what these union leaders try to do. They try to undermine efforts to bond police and community, they try to undermine progress,” the mayor complained.
He boasted that he was there when the mayor and the city council voted to create the Civilian Complaint Review Board in 1992 and said the unions have tried to fight every effort at changing policing.
“The reality in Albany – for decades they stopped change to any of the laws that would provide transparency… these police union leaders – not all of them, but too many of them – stand in the way of progress,” de Blasio said.
“I think it’s time for a full review of when their actions reach beyond freedom of speech or the right to represent one’s members… and do things that are counterproductive to the safety of New Yorkers,” the mayor added.
“In the end, this example last night is a good one. I would think the unions would trust the NYPD to find the truth,” de Blasio said snarkily. “And I thank Chief Harrison for so rapidly getting the truth out.”
“But these union leaders don’t want the truth,” he added. “They just want to sew division. And we have to figure out what the limits are on their right to do that.”
But officers in NYPD’s rank-and-file told The Police Tribune that they do not trust the mayor and they not trust the Command Staff of their police department.
“I want to know what unit investigated and I want to know how much input came from the Mayor’s Office,” one NYPD officer said. “It’s rather suspect that the only people who got sick were uniformed police officers, and no one else.”
The officer said he thinks New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would make every effort to cover up an attack on the police if he could.
“An investigation can get closed this quick, but is it that they cannot prove criminality or that there was no criminality?” he asked. “It’s a little strange that it happens this quick and all of a sudden, NYPD is saying ‘nope, nope, nothing to see here.’”
The officer told The Police Tribune this isn’t the first time the rank-and-file have felt like the department was sweeping a dangerous threat to police under the rug.
“I don’t trust them because this isn’t the first time that NYPD has tried to gloss over something,” he said. “Like the razor blade in the officer’s sandwich – how is that an accident?”
He referred to an incident in Queens on Dec. 5, 2019 when an on-duty plainclothes NYPD officer driving a marked police vehicle found a razor blade inside a cheesesteak sandwich he picked up at the Bon Appetit restaurant located on Beach Avenue in Rockaway Park.
The department quickly labeled the incident an accident on that occasion, too.
“The union’s tweet went out quickly Monday night as a safety issue – to let everybody know because if it happened at that location, it could happen at another location,” the officer explained.
“They were trying to keep officers’ from being hurt or killed, not malign a fast food restaurant,” he continued. “It’s not like this hasn’t been happening to officers’ food all across the country for a few years. It’s certainly wasn’t an unreasonable warning under the circumstances.”
Another NYPD source told The Police Tribune that de Blasio was a hypocrite for criticizing the SBA and PBA tweets about the Shake Shack incident.
“De Blasio regularly puts in his opinion when he knows nothing about what’s going on or the investigation into an incident hasn’t been completed,” the officer pointed out.
“The mayor is only in support of unions that support him, but like with everything today, if you’re not 100 percent in favor of the mayor’s cause, that means you’re 100 percent against him,” he said.
“He’s all for unions except for police officers’ unions,” the officer said.
He also countered the mayor’s assertions that the union bosses are racist.
“Racist is a great thing to call someone because you can’t prove a negative, and when they defend themselves, the accuser just says it’s more racism,” the officer told The Police Tribune.
He said the unions were the only thing standing between the officers and politicians in New York City.
“How many times are there false allegations against police officers?” he asked. “Without the unions, the officers would never get due process.”
He said de Blasio has been talking out of both sides of his mouth.
“In the past, the mayor said the department had systemic problems. Now, he’s telling us to trust the department but not our unions,” the officer pointed out.
“I don’t trust de Blasio and I don’t trust NYPD right now, but I still trust my union to protect me,” he told The Police Tribune.