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.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was placed on the defense today, fielding question after question about a controversial phone call he placed to police after a campaign supporter was arrested Monday night
The supporter, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, avoided a night in jail despite two open warrants, prompting accusations of favoritism and interference. But Mr. de Blasio, his talking points mastered, repeatedly insisted he only inquired about Mr. Findlayter’s status.
It’s the day of his first budget announcement, but much of the spotlight today will instead be focused on Bill de Blasio’s controversial decision to reach out to the NYPD following a friend’s arrest.
The city’s new mayor suddenly finds himself under fire from multiple corners following yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report revealing he personally made a call to inquire about Bishop Orlando Findlayter after the pastor was arrested Monday for outstanding warrants. A local police official subsequently–and suspiciously, some say–released Mr. Findlayter.
Ladies Who Lunch
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new administration may have been hit with its first minor scandal today: a report suggesting he intervened to prevent a friend from spending a night behind bars–a suggestion Mr. de Blasio’s office denies.
The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon that Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a member of Mr. de Blasio’s inaugural committee, was spared a night in jail after the mayor contacted a top police official to inquire about his arrest Monday night.
Le Cirque, always a great place for socialite watching, was buzzing this afternoon, as New York’s finest ladies turned out to pay tribute to NYPD police commissioner Bill Bratton’s wife, Rikki Klieman Bratton. The lunch, hosted by Judi Giuliani, the wife of Rudy Giuliani, and Somers Farkas featured a drop-in from Commissioner Bratton himself, who had come to be half of what Ms. Giuliani referred to as “a power couple.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio is pleased that his new law department has agreed to pay out $18 million to settle various lawsuits stemming from the 2004 Republican National Convention, where many alleged they were illegally arrested by the NYPD.
“I’ll simply say I’m glad the case is settled,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters this afternoon, speaking at a press conference outlining his plan to reduce traffic fatalities. “I have spoken before about my concerns about how that situation was handled at the time and I’m glad we’re moving forward.”
Rays of Sunshine
The NYPD press office mistakenly sent out a memo to its press distribution list this afternoon listing the mentions that the police department got in the press today.
“We just sent it out, it wasn’t on purpose,” an NYPD press aide told The Observer shortly after.
Ray Kelly, the longtime police chief under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, appears set to land another job in public service.
During Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech today, New York’s governor announced plans “to establish the nation’s first college on emergency preparedness and homeland security” and has “recruited Ray Kelly to be a special adviser to the state in setting up this school.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was officially sworn into office today and made clear in his opening remarks that there’s a new top cop in town.
Notably, while former Commissioner Ray Kelly was relentlessly criticized–including by Mr. Bratton’s new boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio–for alienating communities of color, Mr. Bratton vowed to fix the problem and reestablish trust in the NYPD.
Bill Bratton may be the new top cop in the NYPD–after previously holding the same post under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani–but even he doesn’t have access to every room at the department headquarters.
Asked today about the NYPD’s controversial surveillance program, Mr. Bratton said it was important “to understand the parameters that … legally you need to operate with” before pivoting to say he still needed to do a full evaluation of the system–and still needed to get the necessary clearances to do so.