By Bill Parry
Patrick Lynch got four more years as leader of New York City’s largest police union. The combative leader of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association was re-elected to a record fifth term by a landslide margin of 70 percent in what officials are calling an “incredible show” of union solidarity.
The Bayside resident was first elected in 1999 and built a reputation as a fierce advocate for his union’s membership, which numbers over 24,000. Lynch fended off his first election challenge in more than a decade and cruised to victory over challengers Brian Fusco and Ronald Wilson. “We are extremely gratified that our members have recognized the hard work and successes that Team Lynch has achieved on their behalf,” Lynch said. “A single tenet has and will continue to guide us as we look to the future: do what’s in the best interest of our members. These results give our team a mandate to continue that work. Serving as a New York City police officer is a noble profession and we are honored and privileged to represent these courageous men and women.”
Police officers cast their ballots during a two-week period and the results were announced last Friday. Fusco, a 27-year NYPD veteran and Lynch’s staunchest foe, conceded Friday afternoon. “The members have spoken,” he said, “and we respect their decision.”
Lynch became a national figure during a very public battle with Mayor Bill de Blasio last winter, after a grand jury failed to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. The tension worsened following the assassinations of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu weeks later, when Lynch declared that de Blasio had “blood on his hands,” suggesting he had given anti-police protests too much leeway.
During the Ramos funeral at Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, a majority of the estimated 20,000 cops turned their back while the Mayor eulogized their slain colleague.
Observers say that those tensions have cooled since the murder of NYPD Officer Brian Moore in Queens Village in May. The Mayor’s office took the high road following Lynch’s victory.
“We congratulate Mr. Lynch on his reelection, and look forward to working together to keep New York the safest big city in America, protect and support our police officers, and bring police and community closer together,” spokeswoman Amy Spilatnick said.
The PBA remains the lone police union without a contract. The contract is currently in arbitration. “The election’s over and he’s back to work,” PBA spokesman Al O’Leary said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr