Former mayor David Dinkins critical of police disrespect of Bill de Blasio

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(PIX11)--History has a way of repeating itself.

Looking back on almost 100 years of leadership in the city, I found that almost every Mayor, at one time or another, has been at odds with police, whether it's been over a soaring crime rate, corruption, or incidents of police brutality.

So, as Police Commissioner Bratton noted the other day, Mayor de Blasio's ongoing feud with police is not unique.

"Point out to me on Mayor who has note been battling with the police unions in the last 50 years," he challenged. "Name one, name one."

Other mayors certainly have had their differences with police, but going back to my days covering John Lindsay, I can't remember one Mayor who was so disrespected as Bill deBlasio that officers turned their back on him, as many did at the hospital and at Saturday's funeral of officer Rafael Ramos.

Former Mayor David Dinkins told PIX11 News, "It is not proper to turn your back on the Mayor."

Dinkins, who had his bouts with police, said in an exclusive interview that regardless of the issues, he was disappointed to see so many cops turn their backs on the Mayor.

"It's the office of the Mayor. One doesn't do that. They should do as Police Commissioner Bratton says, 'be respectful of the Mayor'.

I noted that cops are angry and they were angry during his days as Mayor, but they never turned their back on Dinkins.

"They behaved worse," he declared. "They rioted at City Hall."

Cops stormed City Hall in a 1992 blaming Dinkins of undercutting police at a time crime was rampant in the city. And they were venting their anger over his plans for an independent civilian complaint review board. He said he has since established good relations with police. The former Mayor would not get drawn into the current verbal battle, but did offer advice.

"Everyone should lower the rhetoric and keep in mind the safety of the people," he said.

Back in the 1970s, Mayor John Lindsay had a contentious relationship with police.

There was a sense of political polarization and anger among cops after the assassination of two police officers. The widow of one asked Lindsay not to attend the funeral. He did anyway.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told me, "You can't lose the trust of police."

Yet he did during his term. when he became the brunt of a "zeros for heroes" campaign. Police targeted him when he refused to give them the pay raises the wanted.

One of the few Mayors who enjoyed a good relationship with police was Ed Koch. Cops loved him. He always told his successors that they must have the support of the cops; that "they could be your best friends."

Former Mayor Dinkins is optimistic the current Mayor will find peace with police. "I'm confident in time this will pass."

Rifts between Mayors and police go back to the turn of the century. Robert Van Wyck, the first Mayor after consolidation of all five boroughs, had the ire of cops as he dealt with police corruption, and made a new push for a civilian complaint review board. As someone once observed, "You can't be a big city Mayor and alienate the cops."