Post 13 Trivia – The Banana Republic & Parity
John Young, Patrolman
It was springtime and the PBA was launching a new public relations campaign to break parity with other city unions. The first phase was an outdoor advertising campaign that started in December 1973. The PBA had rented eight billboards in four boroughs that were illuminated from dusk until midnight. The police union’s message read: POLICE -SANITATION PARITY? GARBAGE!
The intent of the campaign was started when the PBA handed the city a four-page set of demands at an early morning (9/24/73) gathering at Gracie Mansion. Present at the meeting was Bob McKiernan, Fred Livingston (PBA attorney), Mayor Lindsay, Herbert Haber (City’s Labor Relations Director) and Deputy Mayor Ed Hamilton. Hamilton was the city’s number 3-man, as Lindsay was chasing a nomination for president.
The Democrats had a four-man run with a run-off between Herman Badillo and Abe Beame that was won by Beame. Beame had attended the PBA delegate’s meeting in October, where he gave a 12-minute speech, interrupted by applause several times, and he received a standing ovation as he left the meeting room. He received a strong voice vote endorsement for Mayor from the 350-member delegate body.
Note: The 1973 mayoral election was a four-way race between Abe Beame, John Marchi (Republican), Albert Blumental (Liberal) and Mario Biaggi (Conservative). The Department started the Field Training Program: Uniform “Gold Shields” for Community Relations, Crime Prevention and Planning Officers.
Returning to the parity issue, Sanitation-men made 90% of a patrolman’s salary while Transit and Housing cops made the same salary as the NYPD. The city’s firefighters (FDNY) has had a “me-too” clause since the late 1920s, when the city gave them a raise of several hundred dollars instead of giving them a three-platoon work schedule.
Note: Remember the 9-day Great Garbage Strike in February 1968, led by John Delury (Uniform Sanitation Association President), with Delury going to jail and garbage-men getting a $425 raise annually from Governor Rockefeller? The governor had seized state control (temporary) of the Sanitation Department under a health emergency.
The PBA billboard campaign continued with a new sign depicting a police officer giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a child, with the accompanying message, “Don’t Treat him like garbage!” Other messages included: “Last year he responded to seven million calls for help. In the last 10 years, 62 policemen have died in the line of duty. Total number of arrests: 232,000 collars in a single year & last year we arrested 1,200 murderers.”
At the same time, Internal Affairs Division (IAD) was conducting integrity tests on street cops. Dropped wallets, radio runs on abandoned cars and found property turned over by civilians. One trick, an Army Major in uniform turned over a box of unauthorized ammunition to a Brooklyn precinct. He left the station house and was seen leaving in an unmarked department vehicle, heading towards Poplar Street. IAD was housed in the old 84th precinct station house, located at 72 Poplar Street, Brooklyn.
December 1973 saw the release of the movie Serpico starring Al Pacino. To promote the film, Paramount Pictures began an advertising campaign in the newspapers and on television. A particular phrase, “Many of his fellow cops considered him the most dangerous man alive – an honest cop,” became most offensive to New York’s Finest.
Note: Advertising by Paramount Pictures to promote the new movie Serpico was a vicious smear on New York’s Finest because of the heavy dependence on a phrase in newspapers and on television, “Many of his fellow officers considered him the most dangerous man alive – an honest cop.” In a letter to Paramount, McKiernan wrote that the movie panders to malcontents and misfits that resent policemen, in an effort to make more money.
Guess I must have boycotted the film because I only saw it on television a couple of years ago. In fact, NBC produced a television-movie The Deadly Game that led to a TV series starring David Birney as Frank Serpico. The series was canceled after 14 episodes, without a season finale in January 1977. Speaking of police corruption shows, one should remember not to watch TNT’s Public Morals, produced by Ed Burns & Steven Spielberg. What a waste of time! It deals with Manhattan plainclothes men during the 1960s. In the first eight shows, only one arrest is made for prostitution and the cop falls in love with her.
April 1974, saw the PBA and the city begin bargaining on a new contract. With a new friend in Albany (Gov. Malcolm Wilson), and City Hall, the police union had high hopes of obtaining benefits for the 28,383 membership. Wilson became governor, upon Rockefeller resigning in December 1973, in order to devote time to a federal committee formed to study problems in America. Rockefeller would become Gerald Ford’s VP in December.
Interesting tidbit in Front & Center that noted the 41 Club (Det. Billy Rath) was having its annual day of canoeing on the Delaware River on June 3, 1974. Funny thing, I just had my picture taken with Billy at the Jersey Shore 10-13 Christmas party. Guess, the cops in Apache territory (41st Precinct) liked canoeing. Wonder if J.J. O’Brien went?
During this period, cop’s lockers were being stuffed with political fliers from the PBA (Finest Party) and the 3100 Party. One 3100 flier was the great cartoon depicting a 20-mule team pulling a wagon and each of the mules had the board officer’s name. Sony I never saved it, but it was a classic. Ken McFeeley led the 3100 team consisting of 12 other delegates who hoped to un-seat the old guard. His entire team won election.
The job was changing. Youth had entered the aging department with large classes in 1967, 1968 & 1969. One-man cars, civilians replacing cops in station houses, women on patrol, uniform gold shields — all caused dissatisfaction among the troops. Remember Jimmy Breslin & Daily News editorials with his vicious attacks on cops? I still do not buy the newspaper. Every Thursday I go to the Pearl River Library and read it there.