NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio soon might not be the only person the NYPD turns its back on — Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is close to losing the rank-and-file, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Bratton met late Wednesday with the heads of the city's five union presidents to discuss the various issues from a perceived work slowdown. It follows their belief that de Blasio "does not know what cops do, and never will, and his words of support seem hollow," a top police union official told "On The Inside."
That meeting did not appear to make much progress toward closing a rift between City Hall and the NYPD that has grown over the past few weeks.
“Right now the commissioner is getting the benefit of the doubt, but if the tone he has continues in lockstep with the mayor, he is going to lose his beloved cops as well," the official said.
“Right now, morale is even lower than it was under [Raymond] Kelly, which I thought was impossible,” another union official said.
"But noone expects de Blasio to change his position. It's not in his DNA. However, we are giving the commissioner the benefit of the doubt."
"Things are very fragile, and [Bratton] has been getting dangerously close to losing us," another said.
After Wednesday's meeting, Patrick Lynch, the head of the city's largest police union, issued a statement on behalf of all the union heads saying "the problem was not created here at [police] headquarters, it started at City Hall."
"We don’t believe that there is a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems," he added.
"So we as union leaders will take the time to sit down and discuss these issues and come up with solutions to them."
As the union official who spoke to "On the Inside" put it, "we provided [Bratton] with cover" by keeping the focus on de Blasio.
The "cover," however, will not last if Bratton does not find a way through this perfect storm between the NYPD and City Hall that started with de Blasio's campaign messages last year, seen by many NYPD insiders as anti-police.
That perception grew amid protests over the grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner and boiled over following the execution of two officers in Brooklyn.
When de Blasio selected Bratton to return to the NYPD, the move immediately boosted sagging morale. But since then there has been an litany of problems, culminating with officers turning their backs on the mayor at funerals for the slain officers.
"It was a mistake not to strike a truce," one union official observed. "And especially for Bratton. The mayor is sticking to his base, but we are Bratton's base."
Before the funeral of Det. Wenjian Liu, Bratton asked officers not to turn their back on de Blasio.
"A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance," Bratton said in a memo.
But the police commissioner could find himself the target of that grievance.
"We may not be there yet," another leader said. "But he is starting to get dangerously closer."