2001 Grand Marshal – Patrick J. Lynch

patric3BY JACK SHANAHAN

The Brooklyn Tablet August 12, 2000

A dozen memorial prayer cards – each for a cop killed in the line of duty – lie in a row atop the desk blotter of Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. They were given to him by parents of the deceased officers, three of whom died since Lynch was elected head of the police union a little more than a year ago. It’s a reminder of why you do this job,” he said. Despite what he called the “bombardment’ of anti-police activists, Lynch said, ‘I think the average person out there who does not have a political agenda supports New York City cops.” He said, “we have detractors who try to tear down what we do and attack us on every turn, but … there’s no one on this earth who defends the civil rights, or the Constitutional rights, of the people of this country more than a police officer in uniform standing on that corner.” When a cop goes bad, he said, it’s like a betrayal to all cops. No self-respecting police man or woman likes it when a fellow officer breaks the law. “It taints the department,’ the PBA chief said.

Lynch said his Catholic education, at home and in school, has helped him in all walks of life. “It was all interconnected,” he said. “The lessons at home and the lessons at school were the same. “You have to work hard to get ahead. You have to believe in Cod. He’s the One who put you on the earth and allows you to do what you’re doing. That whole situation: it started at our kitchen table, but it was the same when you went off to school.”

He was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Robert’s and by the Ohio Dominicans at Scanlon. He also worked as a maintenance man at St. Andrew Avellino in Flushing and briefly as a subway conductor before switching to the Police Department. Lynch and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse, have two sons, Patrick, 9, and Kevin, 7.

Lynch, 36, born in Bayside, and a graduate of St. Robert Bellarmine parochial school there, is, the youngest cop to become president of the 29,000 member PBA. He campaigned virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week, visiting each police precinct house and talking to cops on the day, night and overnight tours to get their votes. ‘They needed to see their union. They needed to feel part of the union,’ he explained. “This is an ever changing job. You have to be out there to understand (what’s-going on).”

The youngest of seven children, Lynch found union activity almost second-nature. His father, Robert, now 75, was a subway motorman for 30 years and took him out of school on day to walk the picket line during the 1980 transit strike. “You saw it then. You could feel it,” Lynch recalled. “If everyone stood together, in unity, you could change things and you could fix things for the better.”

His desire to do something meaningful was why he became a policeman. “Everything you do makes a difference. It’s the one job where the lowest person on the totem pole, the average cop, makes all the preliminary decisions and all else follows from that police officer’s decision. So, you really can make a difference,” he said in an interview in his office in Lower Manhattan.

Patrolmen have to make life-and-death decisions – frequently in a matter of seconds, or even a split second – decisions that will withstand the test of legal challenges all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, he noted. “And we’re asking them to do that on a salary of $350,” he said. The union chief referred to the weekly take-home pay of a rookie cop who actually grosses $31,000-a-year to start. The pay increases with time on the job. Lynch, with 17 years in, now receives $49,000 annually as a police officer and an additional similar amount as union president.

He is asking for “a substantial increase” for PBA members to replace the union’s five-year-old labor contract which expired July 31. He noted that an arbitrator last month boosted the top yearly pay of Suffolk County cops to more than $80,000 in the year 2003.

Besides fighting for a salary hike for his members, the graduate of Monsignor Scanlon High School in the Bronx also is battling the “very anti-police climate right now. It’s not popular to stand with a cop who’s wrongfully accused, but we’re doing that – and that goes a long way,’ he said.

“It’s never been this bad,’ Lynch said, referring to recent high-profile cases. “There’s never been a time when there are so many people demonstrating against police. “And,” he added, “we’re going through a time when we should be celebrating the police. Crime is down in astronomical numbers. You could walk safely in the, neighborhoods. Five short years ago … you couldn’t.’ Lynch said much of the anti-cop attitude could be blamed on government policies. ‘What’s happening is: the New York City cop is being dragged into everyone’s politics … and they’re attacking the policies on the backs of the New York City. police officer.” Uniformed officers are the first branch of government that many people see, even in housing disputes, he remarked. ‘So many times you take the brunt of society’s problems. You take the blame for problems that other agencies can’t fix. It falls square on the shoulders of cops,” he lamented.

A veteran of foot and motor patrol and community policing in the racially-mixed and ethnically-diverse 90th Precinct in Williamsburg, Lynch said that differences between the police and community usually could be worked out without rancor. “Once you get the dialogue going, many times you get past the differences. You find you’re not that far apart,” he said.

He’s trying as PBA president to “put a face on the average cop” for the public. However, he declined to discuss his own decorations which include one for Exceptional Merit for rescuing two officers who had been shot by a man firing through a door. Asked if he put himself in the line of fire, Lynch replied only, “part of the job. Part of the job.”

Despite what he called the “bombardment’ of anti-police activists, Lynch said, ‘I think the average person out there who does not have a political agenda supports New York City cops.” He said, “we have detractors who try to tear down what we do and attack us on every turn, but … there’s no one on this earth who defends the civil rights, or the Constitutional rights, of the people of this country more than a police officer in uniform standing on that corner.”

When a cop goes bad, he said, it’s like a betrayal to all cops. No self-respecting police man or woman likes it when a fellow officer breaks the law. “It taints the department,’ the PBA chief said.

Lynch said his Catholic education, at home and in school, has helped him in all walks of life. “It was all interconnected,” he said. “The lessons at home and the lessons at school were the same. “You have to work hard to get ahead. You have to believe in Cod. He’s the One who put you on the earth and allows you to do what you’re doing. That whole situation: it started at our kitchen table, but it was the same when you went off to school.”

He was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Robert’s and by the Ohio Dominicans at Scanlon. He also worked as a maintenance man at St. Andrew Avellino in Flushing and briefly as a subway conductor before switching to the Police Department. Lynch and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse, have two sons, Patrick, 9, and Kevin, 7.

The union leader, whose mother, Mary, came here from County Mayo, Ireland, also was a drummer in the County Tyrone Pipe Band. His brother, Robert, is a piper. Asked why he did not take up the pipes, Lynch said with a challenging smile, “It took more skill to be a drummer.”

Since he has been head of the union, the Police Holy Name Society member has received thousands of letters, many seeking help, others offering advice. Two contained vials of water which he keeps near his desk. One has water from Lourdes, the other from Knock.

Share