For the first time this century, someone new will lead the nation’s largest police union. Pat Lynch will not seek re-election as president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents most NYPD officers. He’s served in the role since 1999 and his term ends this summer.
“This decision is part of a philosophy I have long held: a rider cannot switch horses in the middle of a battle, and the PBA must not change leadership in the middle of a contract fight,” said Lynch in a letter to union members.
And now the fight is settled. Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new contract with the PBA resulting in up to 4% in raises, along with a pilot program to work up to two months fewer annually—it’s currently rolling out in select Bronx precincts. The ex-transit cop-turned-mayor said Lynch reached out before publicly announcing his decision.
The previous contract expired in July 2017, with 3,701 officers leaving the NYPD last year. It’s the department’s largest exodus in two decades.
“Pat and I have not always agreed on topics, but we’ve never been disagreeable,” said Adams. “And not only when he first ran. I was in 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, and many times. we were on opposite sides of issues, but there was never a time that we could not pick up the phone and speak. He fought on behalf of his membership and I fought on behalf of the things that were important to me. I think that he has been a good public servant for his members and even in those areas that we did not agree on, we both agreed that we should support our law enforcement officers, that we should make sure our city safe.”
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Lynch’s announcement, along with the recent bargaining agreement, throws a curveball into the plans of Corey Grable, the PBA’s only Black board member, who aimed to run against the long-time president this summer under the platform of securing the new contract. If he wins, he’ll become the union’s first Black president.
“Corey was a viable candidate and I think made [Lynch] nervous if the contract hadn’t been settled,” said a PBA member who wished to remain anonymous. “I honestly think that he would have lost because people are just tired of his way of leadership. He’s done great things and a couple of things that are not so great. This is coming from [mostly] younger officers.”
Securing a new contract lets Lynch leave office on a major high-note, providing a big boost to whoever he endorses, and potentially damaging Grable’s chances if he backs an opponent.
The announcement also aligns with Lynch’s philosophy to avoid changes in leadership during bargaining. The newly secured contract expires in 2025, just one year before his mandated retirement from the police force. Only active NYPD officers can serve on the PBA’s executive board, and another contract dispute could drag out by the time he ages out of the department.
A PBA spokesperson told the Amsterdam News that Lynch is committed to business as usual until his term ends this June. No retirement party has been planned yet.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.