New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-N.Y.) tried to brag about his work with the New York City police during Wednesday’s debate, but it quickly backfired.
De Blasio took part in the first night of Democratic primary debates where he tried to set himself apart from the crowded field of candidates. During the debate, the issue of gun violence was brought up. Although de Blasio was asked a question about working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the mayor opted to discuss guns instead.
He claimed that he built relationships with the New York City police to improve relations between black Americans and police. In his answer, de Blasio noted that his son — who is black — had to be taught how to be safe around police.
Watch de Blasio’s statement:
“I run the largest police force in America, too, and if we are going to stop these shootings, we have to get the guns off the street. We have to have a very different relationship between our police and our community. I also want to say, something sets me apart from all my colleagues running in this race and that is for the last 21 years, I have been raising a black son in America. And I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son, Dante, about how to protect himself on the street of our city and all over this country, including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between our young men and our police, too, as we saw recently in Indiana.”
De Blasio claimed that he worked to rebuild police relations within his own city and it resulted in a lower crime rate.
“We need to have a different conversation in this country about guns, but also a different conversation about policing that brings police and the community together,” said the mayor. “We have done that in New York City and driven down crime.”
While de Blasio may believe that he has improved police relations in New York City, his own police union disagrees.
The Police Benevolent Association of New York City released a statement condemning de Blasio for his comments.
The hostile and dangerous environment we now face on the street is a direct result of demonization of cops by de Blasio and other elected officials pic.twitter.com/JDszTVf7Z5
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) June 27, 2019
“Mayor de Blasio has apparently learned nothing over the past six years about the extremely damaging impact of anti-police rhetoric on both cops and the communities we serve. The hostile and dangerous environment we now face on the street is a direct result of the demonization of cops by de Blasio and other elected officials. By rolling out that rhetoric again on a national stage, it’s clear he wants to take the country down the same path.”
De Blasio must have forgotten that his police department literally turned their backs on him during a funeral for fallen Officer Miosotis Familia.
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) July 11, 2017
De Blasio is correct that improved relationships between law enforcement and the public could curb violence, but it looks as though he may struggle to prove that he has done anything to improve relations with cops in his city.
The mayor is the second 2020 candidate to be grilled by police this week. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.) also faced backlash from his police union over his handling of an officer-involved shooting, as IJR previously reported.