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Police union leader wants mediation with de Blasio

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton answers questions along with

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton answers questions along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a news conference at One Police Plaza Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, in the wake of the shooting deaths of two NYPD officers. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Angered by City Hall, at least one NYPD union leader is going to ask Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to try and help broker peace between Mayor Bill de Blasio and rank-and-file cops.

Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told Newsday Thursday he will be calling both Cuomo and Skelos in an effort to get their help in an increasingly polarized situation that he said appears to be hurting cop morale.

"The governor has an open door to discussion and I am going to take advantage of it," Mullins said.

Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Centre, is considered sensitive to law enforcement concerns, while Cuomo has the power and prestige of his office to bring all sides closer, Mullins said.

De Blasio was cool to the idea. Spokesman Phil Walzak said the mayor doesn't believe Cuomo or any intermediary is needed because "our door is always open, we're always here to meet with the unions."

Spokesmen for Cuomo and Skelos didn't return telephone calls for comment.

The union leaders contend that de Blasio is unwilling or unable to find a way to end the feud and fix other problems facing cops -- a view they made clear in a joint statement after meeting Wednesday night with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

"We don't believe there is a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems," said Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association after that session.

Bratton said on a WABC radio interview that he didn't think mediation was needed.

Officials with the PBA and other police unions couldn't be reached for comment on the mediation idea or declined to comment. But earlier this month Lynch applauded Cuomo for recent comments he made calling for respect of cops. "It is reassuring to hear the calm, practical and reasoning voice of Governor Andrew Cuomo," Lynch said.

But one police union official who didn't want to be identified was wary of Cuomo or any other politician getting involved as mediators. "Sitting politicians have too much skin in the game and will look to make it what they want [politically]," the official said.

In recent weeks, de Blasio has made statements supporting police, most recently while swearing in a new class of recruits on Wednesday and touting a decline in serious crimes in 2014. He also gave eulogies at the funerals of slain officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

But even when he makes supportive moves, de Blasio has drawn criticism, notably in the way hundreds of cops turned their backs on his televised image when he gave the eulogies.

The unions are also prepared to take political action by lobbying against City Council bills seen as detrimental to the safety of cops on the street and to oppose de Blasio if he seeks re-election in 2017, Mullins said.

In the meantime, Cuomo faces pressure from leaders of protests against a grand jury's decision not to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island last July after a police officer used an apparent police chokehold on him.

Music impresario Russell Simmons penned an op-ed on the Huffington Post website Thursday reminding Cuomo that he made a promise "to create a special prosecutor for all complaints of excessive force by a police officer against a civilian" and saying that it's time to follow through.

With Matthew Chayes

and Yancey Roy

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