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NYC Mayor de Blasio & NYPD Commissioner Answer Questions About Two Officers Critical Following Fire

debMayor Bill de Blasio: Well I just want to say two things upfront before we take your questions. It’s a tremendous honor to be with this class at the academy, to see the great work that our new Deputy Commissioner Tucker is doing, and to see the future of the NYPD literally before our eyes. And really want to thank everyone at the academy for the great work they do, and for the way they’re preparing the men and women of the force of the future to work ever more closely with communities and productively with the communities they serve. Second point I want to address – we, as I said earlier, our hearts go out to the Guerra family and Rodriguez family. These two officers remain in critical condition. We know how tough these last few days have been for these families, and they obviously have the support of Commissioner Bratton and I, and of all New Yorkers. Commissioner Bratton and I are going to proceed after this up to Montefiore Hospital to visit again with the family of Officer Guerra and to show our support. And we’ll have updates in the coming days, as developments occur. With that, we welcome your questions.

Question: Commissioner, is the department looking [inaudible] how officers respond to fires?

Commissioner Bill Bratton, NYPD: We have determined that the department has not – does not have, and has not had – any policies specific to this issue of going into buildings and utilization of elevators. It’s a [inaudible] a policy deficiency. It is not unique to New York City, it is a consistency evidently in the profession. Chief Banks, who is leading our investigation – our after action investigation – and is [inaudible] a review of [inaudible] of other cities: London, Los Angeles. Most of the major cities do not have a policy or training to address this issue. Something we are certainly – based on this incident – going to correct very quickly for ourselves and also take it to the larger profession, if you will.

Question: Rodriguez, I guess. Have any clergy been called, [inaudible] are there any?

Commissioner Bratton: The clergy has been with them since day one. We have a large cadre of chaplains. They have their own clergy, [inaudible] liaison, people have been there with him constantly. Continuous stream of support, particularly from the men and women of the housing bureau, their colleagues. So as the mayor indicated, current condition is still very critical for both of them. And we’re going to be going up to visit Officer Guerra shortly and then Officer Rodriguez a little later. So again, we’re staying very aware, very involved in their treatment – their ongoing treatment. We’re very thankful to the hospitals concerned, that they are doing extraordinary things to try and deal with the injuries these officers received.

Question: Mayor, in your remarks, you said [inaudible]. Can you elaborate on what exactly your first [inaudible]?

Mayor: Yeah, I think in over three months we have something of a sample of what community leaders all over the city feel. I’ve talked to city councilmembers, I’ve talked to clergy, I’ve talked to community leaders. And what I hear consistently is that they appreciate that there are fewer stops. There are obviously many fewer arbitrary stops. That there is a message they’re hearing from the top of the NYPD of police and community working together. And obviously the actions taken to settle the outstanding lawsuits – I think it all adds up to a sense among community residents and community leaders that something is changing for the better. We have a long way to go – let me emphasize. We know we have a long way to go and we know always have to be vigilant to both keep crime low and to deepen the relationship between police and community, but something important has begun. And I have to always thank Commissioner Bratton for the message he has sent to the people of this city and to the men and women of the NYPD, which I think has contributed greatly to the process of healing.

Question: Commissioner Bratton, you testified in the City Council [inaudible] hearing recently about [inaudible] smaller NYPD head-count [inaudible] last time you were commissioner [inaudible] overtime [inaudible] do you believe that the [inaudible] larger [inaudible]?

Commissioner Bratton: There is not a police chief in America that would not tell you that they’d like more cops. I’d always like more cops, but you work with what you have. We have a very large department. We also have – fortunately, the mayor has prioritized in this budget – a good budget to work with – and overtime that, similar to what’s gone on in the last 12 years, to make up for the loss of those 6,000 officers, there’s an overtime budget that effectively gives you the equivalent of those officers on a daily basis. So while the department is headcount down by 6,000, the overtime that we have available to us effectively allows us to police as if we had the larger department.

Mayor: I think he said it beautifully. Again, we’ll be announcing our executive budget in the beginning of May. I want to amplify what the commissioner said. I think this department is doing an extraordinary job with the resources it has. Obviously, continuing to keep crime low. And I’ve felt for a long time that when you see that level of effectiveness and you see it on such a sustained basis, it tells us something about the fact that we’re at a good and capable size right now. But again, we’ll continue looking always as things develop. And every year’s budget process is different. And we’ll have more to say around the time of the executive budget.

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Bratton: Montefiore, if I understand it, is probably one of the top hospitals in the country for dealing with the particular issues, the severe smoke inhalation that Dennis Guerra is dealing with. So that, while Jacobi certainly has a lot of what is important in dealing with smoke inhalation cases, Montefiore is that much better equipped with its staff.

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Bratton: Not being a medical person, I can’t include the specifics of it. It’s my understanding that the reason for the movement was to give him the best medical attention for the issues he’s facing and that is at Montefiore.

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Bratton: In terms of the whole measurement that they’re both dealing with – respirators, etcetera – induced [inaudible] situations. Again, not being a medical person, I would describe that – I really would hesitate to say life support – they’re certainly receiving very significant medical care for their issue but as to [inaudible] life support, I can’t say that. They’re both on – significantly dealing with respirators, if I understand it.

Question: [inaudible] reaction [inaudible] the boy, Marcell Dockery’s smiling face as he was being led out of the precinct?

Commissioner Bratton: The tragedy here is that a 16-year-old young man would not have common sense enough to understand the potential implication of lighting a mattress, as has been alleged, on fire in his own building. How can any of us make any sense out of that? And particularly with the tragic consequences that ensued. Are there even more tragic consequences that might’ve ensued if any of those residents of that building had entered that hallway instead of staying behind their closed doors? We’ll let the courts work this out as they go forward but totally an action just devoid of any understanding.

Question: [inaudible] police academy [inaudible]

Commissioner Bratton: No decision has been made on that. This is a multi-use facility – we have a precinct here, we have an emergency service unit base here, there was formerly a high school many, many years ago. We will not be out of this facility until early next year in the sense of training our academy class, like you just saw – that the new – the new academy in Queens will not be ready for the next class that comes in in July so we will train them here. So, decisions for the building are almost a year away now.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: No, I’m sorry, I don’t today. My apologies.

Question: [inaudible]

Commissioner Bratton: I’m sorry?

Question: [inaudible] are any of those officers going to be disciplined and has the [inaudible]?

Commissioner Bratton: I think you can fully appreciate we’ll take a very close look at their actions relative to that incident – of a person escaping from the back seat of their car – should not have occurred. And we’ll deal with it as we normally would – with a very thorough investigation.

Question: [inaudible] in regards to the protocol [inaudible] of police officers in a burning building, did you check [inaudible] fire department about that?

Commissioner Bratton: Let me ask Chief Banks to speak to that. He just briefed the mayor and I on – as you might appreciate – they’ve been working full-time since Sunday to address the policy deficiency to very quickly get it filled. So he can outline for you very quickly each of the steps we’re going to be taking.

Chief Philip Banks, NYPD: Yes. The answer to your question – yes, we will be speaking to FDNY. Actually, I just had a conversation with the prior commissioner, and he will be assisting us at taking a look and advising us on some of our short-term implementation and certainly some of our long-term policy changes it requires. So the answer to your question is yes. Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you very much.

Commissioner Bratton: Thank you.

(YWN Desk – NYC)

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