NYPD vs. FDNY — Battle of the Badges
Myth or Reality?

Throughout the years, many have reported on the long history of tension between the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). This insider would dispel that notion of conflict, and rather describe the NYPD/FDNY relationship as a sibling rivalry. Brothers and sisters in blue, both noble professions. Historically, friction between the two organizations has mostly stemmed from turf wars involving overlapping responsibilities at emergency scenes. However, the growing anti-police sentiment in the United States, fueled in the wake of incidents such as Ferguson and Baltimore, has led to a remarkable new solidarity between both agencies.

As police officers all over our nation have come increasingly under attack, never has the bond been stronger between the FDNY and the NYPD. This was evident by the strong showing of support following the deaths of Detective Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in December of 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of FDNY fire trucks, ambulances and boats displayed a blue line honoring the police force. A united ‘FDNYPD’ helmet sticker was created. Many fire trucks flew the NYPD flag as they responded to fires and emergencies around the city.

Helmet sticker that FDNY firefighters wear in solidarity.

On January 3, 2015, Police Commissioner William Bratton sent out the following Tweet:
“Thank you to @FDNY for their extraordinary show of support of the NYPD & the families of Detectives Ramos & Liu.”

The strength of the NYPD/FDNY partnership is particularly poignant for the New York members of Cohort 1405/1406 who are attending the Master’s Program at the Naval Post-Graduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California. The student body of this program is comprised of representatives from multiple homeland security disciplines including police, fire, DHS, FEMA, US Coast Guard, fusion centers, public health, emergency management, schools/universities, and city managers. One of the goals of the Center is to strengthen homeland security through organizational partnerships and interagency cooperation among local, tribal, state, federal, civil-military entities where these may not already exist.

Keenly aware of the reported friction between the New York agencies, CHDS Academic Director Dr. Christopher Bellavita seated the NYPD and FDNY students next to one another. The idea was to break down barriers that prevent cooperation, build shared goals, and foster collaboration between these two distinct by interrelated homeland security disciplines. Despite the occasional, and mostly friendly, competitive jab, the strategy worked. The friendships and bonds formed at the Center are changing the landscape of homeland security and fostering communication and cooperation across the homeland security disciplines.

For NYPD and FDNY, the only real battle of the badges will continue to be fought on the ball field, in the boxing ring and, most notoriously, on the ice rink.

As a proud member of the NYPD and of the broader homeland security enterprise, I wish to thank my cohorts and the entire FDNY for their courage, commitment and continued support of the thin blue line!!

This article was written prior to the senseless murder of Police Officer Randolph Holder. Once again, members of the FDNY stood shoulder to shoulder with the NYPD to give a hero a final salute.

To purchase tetrahedron fire helmet stickers, go to www.nycfirewire.net Stickers are printed on Scotchlite 3M reflective tape. All proceeds go to the NYC PBA Widows and Children’s fund.

Kathleen O’Reilly is a contributor to the Homeland Security (HS) Vortex which is a platform where insiders from the policy, law enforcement, fire service and emergency management fields converge to discuss issues related to Homeland Security.

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