NEW YORK CITY — Police Commissioner Bill Bratton finally acknowledged that there was an NYPD work "stoppage" on Friday and efforts are underway to identify its root causes.
His remarks come after two weeks of reports that the department had significantly decreased its enforcement of low-level offenses.
"We're coming out of what was a pretty widespread stoppage of certain types of activity, the discretionary type of activity by and large," Bratton told NPR’s Robert Siegel Friday. "We've been taking management initiatives to identify where it's occurring; when it's occuring."
The New York Post first reported that traffic tickets and summonses for minor infractions had plummeted in late December, following the murder of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
But Bratton did not initially concede there was a stoppage going on, saying instead that the department would investigate. Police union leaders have continued to deny a stoppage was underway and could not be reached for comment.
One reason union reps are so tight-lipped may have to do with Taylor Law, a 1967 New York State statute, that forbids public employees from striking.
"Officially [an NYPD slowdown] is not organized because under the Talyor Law it's not legal to do that." John DeCarlo, the head of the Police Studies program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said. "But what happens in the locker room is a completely different story."
Even if it became clear that there was some kind of organized NYPD job slowdown, DeCarlo said it's unlikely that union leaders or other officers would be held accountable with fines or jail time like the Taylor Law allows.
"The city is in such a position that they’re not going to want to extend this isuue," he said. "The union is doing this because they want to talk. They want to get in a room and negotiate grievances."
On Monday, Bratton threatened to deal with any job action "very forcefully."
Steve Davis, a spokesman for the NYPD, said in a statement that Bratton had acknowledged a slowdown in "'discretionary' enforcement."
"[Bratton] did state that the NYPD has been reviewing enforcement activity and it appears to be trending back up at this point but did not get into the numbers," Davis said.