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The union that represents New York City Police Department officers has voted “no confidence” in their commissioner, James O’Neill, and the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio.
In resolutions finalized Wednesday and obtained by NBC News, the Police Benevolent Association called for the immediate resignation of O’Neill. The union rebuked the commissioner for his decision earlier this month to fire Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who was seen on video using a chokehold during Eric Garner’s deadly arrest five years ago. The encounter sparked mass protests and become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In firing Pantaleo, O’Neill “deprived a dedicated and accomplished police officer of his livelihood,” the PBA said in the resolution. The group also claimed that O’Neill has failed to adequately address the working conditions of police officers, including quality-of-life issues and mental health support.
Patrick Lynch, the longtime president of the PBA, said in a statement that “for years, Commissioner O’Neill has cravenly acquiesced to the mayor and his anti-cop allies.”
In response, a spokesman for the NYPD defended O’Neill and touted his relationship with police officers.
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“As the Police Commissioner has said before, his heart and soul are with the NYPD, and he is honored to lead this Department as it continues to drive crime to historically low levels,” said Phillip Walzak, the deputy commissioner for public information for the department.
In its “no confidence” vote against de Blasio, the PBA claimed the mayor has “unlawfully interfered” in the department’s dismissal of Pantaleo. The group is one of the mayor’s fiercest critics.
The PBA “calls upon Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to exercise his powers under the Charter to immediately suspend and ultimately remove Mayor de Blasio on charges of malfeasance and nonfeasance in the above-stated matters.”
In a statement, Lynch said: “For years, Mayor de Blasio has demonized police officers and undermined our efforts to protect our city.” The mayor is one of nearly two dozen contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
De Blasio’s press secretary retorted in a statement emailed to NBC News.
“This is another attempt by the PBA to divide our city and we won’t stand for it. Under this mayor and Police Commissioner, our officers and the communities they serve are closer than ever and the city is the safest it’s ever been,” Freddie Goldstein said. “That isn’t changing.”