One Police Plaza

Bratton and De Blasio: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

November 17, 2014

Forget Al Sharpton, seated at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s left at City Hall, following the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner, lecturing the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Forget the charges of racism coming at Bratton from the mayor’s “progressive” allies over the abrupt retirement of almost-First Deputy Phil Banks, the NYPD’s highest ranking black officer.

Forget the alleged cracks in the NY Post about Bratton’s having “blind-sided” the mayor over Banks’s departure, and Chirlane McCray, the mayor’s wife’s, saying Bratton couldn’t be trusted.

Forget even Bratton’s easing low-level marijuana arrests, seemingly a crack in his legacy of Broken Windows, which credits aggressive policing of minor crimes for the city’s drastic reductions in major crimes.

But now, with the City Council’s latest police-related bills, we may be seeing the beginning of the unraveling of the de Blasio-Bratton relationship.

One of bills makes illegal the already department-banned chokehold, exposing cops to misdemeanor criminal charges. Both Bratton and de Blasio oppose it, saying the department’s policy is sufficient.

However the other bill — known as the Right to Know Act — reveals daylight between the mayor and commissioner.

The measure, if approved, would require the police to ID themselves to those they stop, and inform them of their right to refuse searches if there’s no probable clause.

Bratton immediately criticized the bill as “part of an ongoing effort to bridle the police and the city of New York.”

Initially, the Mayor also appeared to oppose it. “We obviously have to protect the rights of our people but we also have to make sure that we’re not, in any way, undermining the ability of law enforcement to do its job,” he said.

Then, apparently trying to assuage a core group of his supporters whose views he had embraced during his mayoral campaign, de Blasio refused to say he would veto the legislation in the unlikely event the council approved it.

For months, Bratton’s critics have maintained he has been boxed in by de Blasio and his “reformist” demands that strike at Bratton’s policing legacy.

Some even say Bratton should never have taken the job: that in his desperation to return as commissioner, he agreed to a Faustian bargain with de Blasio that began with his forced retention of Banks and First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, the NYPD’s highest-ranking Hispanic officer.

On the other hand, Bratton supporters say that, having learned a lesson under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani 20 years ago, Bratton has become a devilish politician himself.

They say he has consolidated his position within the department by forcing out Pineiro and, with Banks’s departure, he may even have drawn closer to de Blasio. Contrary to the Post’s account, Bratton supporters say that the person de Blasio felt had “blind-sided” him was not Bratton, but Banks.

Still others say it is de Blasio, not Bratton, who is boxed in — by the reality of being mayor. And that Bratton provides him with the cover of law enforcement respectability. Should he bolt, the NYPD will be seen — for better or worse, and probably the latter — as de Blasio’s or Al Sharpton’s department.

So far de Blasio has backed Bratton on all major police initiatives, at least publicly. He has supported Broken Windows. Even the easing of low-quality pot arrests can be viewed as mere window-dressing.

Yet, especially in New York City where the media is pervasive, perception is reality. When it comes to the police, the mayor’s words of support have been belied by his actions. His term may well be defined by that image of Sharpton, seated to his left at City Hall. As well as that alleged crack about Bratton, whether true or not, by de Blasio’s wife.

Let’s see what happens when the Staten Island grand jury comes down with its decision whether or not to indict the arresting police officers over Gardner’s death. That could determine the future of the Bratton-de Blasio marriage.

It’s not often this column can say this, but pity the poor NYPD.

The department has on its payroll at its Psychological Services Section in Queens a civilian employee named Emily Dearden, whose job is to evaluate prospective cops.

For the past year, the attempted murder of her husband Ken Dearden has been under investigation by the Yonkers police department.

Ten days ago, Ken Dearden filed a civil lawsuit against his wife in Westchester State Supreme Court, accusing her of being the attempted murderess.

According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 13, 2013, he awoke with a sharp pain in his jaw, his pillow covered in blood. He staggered downstairs, looking for his wife to take him to the hospital. She was lying on the floor, struck on the head by an intruder, she claimed.

He called the police, who were skeptical of her story as there were no signs of forced entry and nothing stolen.

Dearden was taken to West Medical Center in Valhalla, where it was discovered that he had been shot in the back of the head. He underwent three separate surgeries. He spent eight days in the hospital, six in intensive care.

Police found four pistols in the house, including two antique Derringers. The caliber of bullets in one was consistent with the bullet in the side of Ken’s head, the lawsuit says.

Dearden also charged his wife with having an adulterous relationship with one Warren David Roudebush of Austin, Texas, who had recently divorced his wife and flown to New York the day of the shooting.

“Defendant’s desire to maintain a relationship with Mr. Roudebush is what caused defendant to perform this horrific act,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant was getting pressure from Mr. Roudebush to end her marriage as Mr. Roudebush had recently done with his spouse. … With plaintiff no longer in the picture, Defendant could avoid a contentious divorce, keep the marital home and never admit the marriage infidelity to family or friends.”

Emily Dearden did not return a phone call to her office. Yonkers police department spokesman Det. Lieu Patrick McCormick, also did not return calls.

It was left to NYPD spokesman Steve Davis to explain: “We are in contact with Yonkers regarding the nature of their investigation as it may pertain to Dearden. As of right now she is currently employed in a regular capacity,” he said.


Copyright © 2014 Leonard Levitt