Police Commissioner Bill Bratton today staunchly defended Bill de Blasio after the mayor received a torrent of criticism for placing a personal call to the NYPD following a campaign supporter’s arrest.
“I have no problem with it whatsoever. None, whatsoever,” said Mr. Bratton, weighing in for the first time on the controversy.
The arrested campaign supporter, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, was released last Monday night without having to spend a night behind bars–reportedly violating patrol guidelines. Both the mayor’s office and police insist the decision to release the bishop was made by a local precinct commander before word of Mr. de Blasio’s call made it to the station–but the incident has nonetheless led to charges of favoritism and separate standards of justice for the mayor’s friends.
Standing by Mr. de Blasio’s side at an unrelated press conference on the Upper West Side, Mr. Bratton tried to brush off the criticism.
“He can call anybody he wants anytime he wants. I call my people any time I want. I call his people any time I want,” argued Mr. Bratton. “You need a free flow of communication in government, so I have no issue whatsoever with him calling anybody in my inner staff or his people calling people on my staff.”
Did he think the call unduly influenced the decision-making of members of the police force?
“I do not,” he said.
What about perceptions of a double standard of treatment?
“That might be your perception; it’s not mine,” he replied.
Mr. Bratton went on to defend the fact that Mr. de Blasio had called a lower-ranking deputy instead of him personally.
“There’s nothing about this incident that required my involvement,” he said, claiming he is known as the “great delegator.” “I’m very comfortable with the action taken by the precinct commander. It was nothing I needed to be notified of immediately. A decision had been made. It was an appropriate decision from my perspective. So in terms of the timing of it, I didn’t need to be notified at 1:30 in the morning. It can wait until 6:30 in morning as far as I’m concerned.”
Mr. Bratton also said it was the precinct commander’s personal relationship with the bishop that resulted in Mr. Findlayter’s seemingly unusual release.
“This was individual that evidently the precinct commander knows quite well; they’ve interacted very frequently on issues involving the community that the precinct commander has responsibility for,” he added. ”This is a discretion that is given to our precinct commanders. I think it was used appropriately here. I have no problem with it.”
As he left the building and walked to his SUV, Mr. Bratton ignored several additional questions about the incident.
“No more questions today, I’m sorry,” he said. “[I’m] questioned out.”