Since the murders and subsequent funerals of two members of the New York City Police Department, tensions have risen between the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the mayor’s office and the police commissioner. At this point, it is unclear to many who is actually in charge, and the city is seeing a dramatic drop in arrests, summonses and tickets, not to mention the fact that hundreds of police officers disrespected the families of the two slain officers by turning their backs on the mayor during funeral services.

“If there has ever been a question of whether or not the NYPD is out of control, it is certainly evident at this point, it is,” stated retired NYPD detective Graham B. Weatherspoon in an op-ed written this week for the Amsterdam News. “Some of the rank-and-file members of the PBA and the union’s president have considered the road most traveled. The road of disrespect and opposition … How can the public embrace those who would defy the orders of the police commissioner of the city of New York and disrespect the office of the mayor of the city of New York?”

The main focus on policing in New York City right now is the “virtual work stoppage” by police that is being alleged by members of the community and by the media. Pat Lynch, the president of the PBA, blamed the recent deaths of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Two weeks ago, a memo of disputed origins was circulated to officers, stating, “At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.”

The memo further advises NYPD officers, “IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.”

In the past week, arrests have plummeted by 66 percent and the issuing of tickets has dropped by 94 percent, according to several media reports.

The memo concluded by saying, “These are precautions that were taken in the 1970s, when police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis. The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of the words and actions and policies, and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

Assemblyman Charles Barron told the Amsterdam News, “Too many police officers are out of control. They are acting like a lynch mob under the influence of a lunatic named Lynch, Patrick Lynch, president of the PBA.”

When the Amsterdam News asked the mayor’s office about the decrease in police activity, the paper was referred back to his recent press conference that ignored the issue and praised the drop in crime.

In his only reference to the PBA, the mayor said, “Rather than get lost in the daily back and forth by the loudest and most disrespectful voices—those that have been so loud in this debate in recent weeks—let’s talk about where we need to go as a city. Let’s talk about a positive vision.”

In the same press conference, a reporter asked, “With regards to the slowdown, and the drop-off of arrests and summonses, are you satisfied it’s not the work action by the unions, in that some of these slowdowns began after December 20? [inaudible] the Garner verdict was December 3. The slowdown didn’t begin after that.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton responded by saying, that the department is taking a look at the numbers and will have a better idea of the situation in a few days,“and if in fact we feel—myself and the leadership team—that that’s what we’re dealing with, we’ll call it that, and we’ll deal with it accordingly.”

Bratton held a talk with five union heads Wednesday, Jan. 7, in an effort to find a resolution. Even though he called the defiant behavior “inappropriate,” he has not spoken, publicly at least, of disciplining any of the officers who participated in defying his direct order not to turn their backs on the mayor.

“The strategies and policies of policing dealing with communities of color have historically been different from those policies in dealing with other ethnic communities throughout the United States,” noted Damon K. Jones, New York representative of 
Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. “Clearly, the entire system of policing must be torn down and rebuilt with policies that are built on true tenets of justice.”

At this point, it is unclear who the rank and file are taking orders from. “It is obvious that Mayor de Blasio has lost control, and the NYPD officers are listening to Lynch, not Commissioner Bill Bratton,” said Barron.

Many people say the system is broken, not just in New York but nationwide. “A plan must be created by our federal government for ‘National Standards of Police Policing Policies’ to address this draconian, antiquated and dysfunctional race-based system of policing in order for the community’s to regain any trust in this institution that we call law enforcement,” said Jones.

Now we are just waiting to see what will come next as the mayor continues to ask for healing and “to find a way forward together—that I’m convinced of.”