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NYPD Commissioner to Meet Police Union Bosses in Wake of Danner Shooting

By Murray Weiss | October 28, 2016 7:24am
 Chief of Department James O'Neill was appointed as NYPD commissioner after Bill Bratton stepped aside.
Chief of Department James O'Neill was appointed as NYPD commissioner after Bill Bratton stepped aside.
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MANHATTAN — Police Commissioner James O’Neill will hold a private sit-down with the heads of the city’s police unions Friday morning at 1 Police Plaza — his first meeting with the union bosses since he criticized the NYPD sergeant who fatally shot Deborah Danner in her Bronx apartment, DNAinfo New York has learned.

O'Neill reached out to the five police leaders on Monday asking them to attend a breakfast meeting at his 14th floor office, sources say. He did not provide details why.

But the labor leaders could not ignore the timing that comes on the heels of the controversial Danner case a week earlier, sources say.

Sgt. Hugh Barry shot and killed the mentally challenged Danner, 66, on Oct. 18, after he talked her into putting down a pair of scissors, but then allegedly came at him with a bat.

O’Neill quickly decried the fatal shooting and Barry for failing to follow department protocols regarding emotionally disturbed people. "We failed," the commissioner said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio went even further, saying Danner “should be alive. Period.”

Those statements stunned the NYPD unions and rank-and-file officers, sources say. Even civil rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, expressed dismay that the mayor and O’Neill were "publicly hanging" Barry and violating his rights.

NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said that since O’Neill took office a month ago he has been meeting with various city and civic leaders and was now getting around to the police union leaders.

He said O'Neill plans on meeting frequently with the police labor leaders, as did former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who believed in trying to keep lines of communication and collaboration open with the union bosses.

O'Neill, formerly the Chief of Department, took over the nation's largest police force Sept. 16 when de Blasio selected him to succeed Bratton.

He started out with a large measure of good will from the police leaders, having been viewed as a "cop's cop" during his nearly three-decade rise through the ranks.

But the Danner case has already strained that relationship, sources say.

Edward Mullins, the sergeant union president, said he expected the Danner case to be discussed Friday morning, but "we have a lot of serious issues facing the department, and the most important thing is to listen. It's his meeting."

"There is an awful lot to discuss and interesting times make for interesting meetings, and that is what I expect," said MIchael Palladino, the detective union president.

DNAinfo New York also reported this week that the lieutenant's union president sent a letter to his members ordering them to essentially disobey a new NYPD edict about searching someone's home or car without a search warrant.

The president, Louis Turco, said he feared the Civilian Complaint Review Board will second guess his members, even when they obtain written permission, and file charges against them that they coerced people into giving consent for a search.

The CCRB says it will fairly evaluate each case.