Rhetoric Heats Up Between NYPD Top Brass, Union

Steve Burns
September 19, 2019 - 4:13 pm
James O'Neill

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill has fired the latest shot in the department's war of words with a police union.

Bickering between NYPD brass and union leaders is nothing new, but it's reached new levels of hostility over the past several weeks.

The Police Benevolent Association passed a no confidence vote in O'Neill, with leadership there calling the NYPD frozen and rudderless, following the firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo over his involvement in Eric Garner’s 2014 chokehold death. The union called for the ouster of the commissioner, trying to make the case that crime has gotten worse under his leadership.

The PBA also points to formal police complaints reaching a 5-year high, spiking 20 percent over the last year, as the latest evidence that things are going downhill in the city. To the union it's a sign that the city has lost respect for its officers.

On Thursday, O'Neill took some time out of his speech to a non-profit to address the PBA criticism.

"It's insulting to your intelligence. It's insulting to me too, but most of all, it's insulting all 55,000 members of the New York City Police Department," said O'Neill. "And it especially denigrates the courageous work of the 36,000 men and women, who put on that uniform each and everyday and who wear that shield every single day, all in service to New Yorkers."

As WCBS 880's Steve Burns reports, O'Neill appears fed up with the union's actions.

"Trying to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of New Yorkers, trying to convince you that crime is out of control and that your police are afraid to do their jobs. That's insulting," O'Neill said, adding that crime numbers remain low. "I don't understand their end game. It really disturbs me when anyone questions the motivation, or drive or fortitude of the men and women of this great police department."

Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison says the increase in complaints can be attributed to more transparency within the department.

"We're giving out the right to know cards that explains if you had a negative interaction how to report a complaint," he said. "We're making sure that people have that availability to make a complaint if need be."