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69 Percent of New Yorkers Think NYPD Back-Turning Was Wrong, Poll Says

By Jeff Mays | January 15, 2015 6:57pm
 Hundreds of officers turned their backs to a video screen projecting Mayor Bill de Blasio's eulogy at Detective Wenjian Liu's funeral on Jan. 4.
Hundreds of officers turned their backs to a video screen projecting Mayor Bill de Blasio's eulogy at Detective Wenjian Liu's funeral on Jan. 4.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

HARLEM—The tough tactics used by police unions to criticize Mayor Bill de Blasio in the wake of the shooting deaths of two NYPD officers is backfiring, according to a new poll.

New York City voters, by a margin of 69 to 27 percent, disapprove of police officers turning their backs on the mayor at the funerals for detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

Comments from Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch that the mayor had blood on his hands after the officers' murders were deemed "too extreme" by 77 percent of voters.

"New Yorkers turned their backs on police who turned their back on the mayor. The cops were not applauded for this rudeness," said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "People overwhelmingly felt it was unfair and inappropriate."

The feelings about Lynch's comments were across the board. No group, whether by political party, gender, race, age or borough found the remarks "appropriate," poll organizers noted.

The harsh police criticism and symbolic back-turning gesture came after comments de Blasio made following the decision of a Staten Island grand jury to not indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of a black man, Eric Garner.

Speaking in Staten Island, the mayor uttered a popular rallying cry of police protesters, "Black lives matter," and also talked about how he had to teach his bi-racial teenage son Dante about interactions with police.

Unions used the comments to imply that de Blasio, who was swept into City Hall on a platform of reforming discriminatory policing such as stop and frisk searches, did not support officers.

Lynch ramped up his rhetoric even more after the officers' deaths.

But the poll also found that voters, by a margin of 47 percent to 37 percent, believe de Blasio's actions during his first year in office and his 2013 campaign show that he does support police.

The gap widens by race. Black voters, by a margin of 69 percent to 19 percent, believe the mayor supports police while 53 percent of Hispanic voters feel the same way. Forty-nine percent of white voters feel the mayor does not support police compared to 36 who do.

The recent misdemeanor ticket slowdown by police may have also hurt their cause.

While 56 percent of voters believe the ticket slowdown is a protest, 57 percent feel that officers should face disciplinary charges if they purposely write fewer tickets.

Voters feel that discipline within the police department has broken down by a margin of 52 percent to 38 percent.

But the numbers bode well for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The commissioner's job-approval numbers now stand at 56 percent, up from 44 percent in a Dec. 17 Quinnipiac poll and his highest approval rating since June.

"People think police department discipline has broken down but they are convinced that Bratton can fix it," said Carroll. "People feel Bratton is a good commissioner."

Bratton's approval rating stretches across racial lines with black, white and Hispanic voters approving of the job the commissioner is doing.

Asked about recent dissent within the PBA and his relationship with the police union at an unrelated press conference, the mayor said it was time to move on.

"We believe the best path for this city is that we work together, all of us," de Blasio said.

"I think a lot of people want us to move forward in this city. I think a lot of police officers want us to move forward," the mayor added.

In a statement, Lynch dismissed the poll's results.

“I fight for and speak for the police officers of the City of New York and they are the only ones whose opinions I care about," said Lynch. "I don’t do my job to make myself popular. I fight for what’s right for my members.”