Police Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday that he finds nothing wrong with Mayor Bill de Blasio's personal phone call to a top NYPD official inquiring about an arrested ally.
"I have no problem with it whatsoever. None whatsoever," Bratton said at an unrelated news conference in which he publicly addressed the controversy for the first time.
The episode began with the Feb. 10 arrest of Bishop Orlando Findlayter, who allegedly failed to signal a left turn at a Brooklyn intersection.
His vehicle lacked insurance, police said, and he had open warrants issued after he failed to show up in court to address a civil-disobedience charge from a political protest last year.
De Blasio and the NYPD have said the decision to free Findlayter instead of holding him in custody overnight had been made by a precinct commander before the mayor's call.
"He can call anybody he wants anytime he wants -- I call my people any time I want. I call his people any time I want," Bratton said. "You need a free flow of communication in government."
Critics, including the good-government group Common Cause, say the mayor's call could be construed as an implicit request for favoritism for Findlayter, who was an early endorser of de Blasio's mayoral bid and later a member of his inaugural committee.
"That may be your perception, it's not mine," Bratton told a reporter who asked about such objections.
Bratton said he wasn't upset that he wasn't contacted, saying he's known as the "great delegator." He said he would have questioned the fitness of the precinct commander had he been unable to decide for himself whether to free Findlayter.