New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton defended Mayor Bill DeBlasio's support for the police and said it was "very inappropriate" for officers to turn their backs on the mayor at a slain officer's funeral.
Appearing Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," Bratton said that DeBlasio "cares very deeply about New York City police officers," adding that the mayor "is working very hard to heal that divide" in the city over race and policing.
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Bratton said that he didn't support the police officers who turned their backs on DeBlasio Saturday at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, one of the two officers slain while sitting in a patrol car on a Brooklyn street last weekend. "That funeral was held to honor Officer Ramos. And to bring politics—to bring—issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate. And I do not support it," Bratton said.
Bratton said the discontent among police officers was about more than race and law enforcement.
"We will be making efforts to sit down and talk with the union leaders in particular to deal with their issues. The issues go far beyond race relations in this city. They involve labor contracts. They involve a lot of history in the city that's really different from some of what's going on in the country as a whole," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." DeBlasio and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association are in a stalemate over the union's labor contract, moving them toward binding arbitration, according to Capital New York.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have called for police reform after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island prompted a national outcry and wide-scale protests. The Obama administration has formed a task force to improve local policing and has requested $263 million for police body cameras and training. But the killing of the two NYPD officers in Brooklyn has fueled a backlash from law enforcement officials.
"They really do feel under attack, rank-and-file officers and much of American police leadership. They feel that they are under attack from the federal government at the highest levels," Bratton said on "Meet the Press."
The NYPD commissioner acknowledged that black residents widely believe they will not be treated fairly by the police. "I interact quite frequently with African Americans from all classes, from the rich to the poor. And there's not a single one that has not expressed this concern, that their perception is the reality that we have to deal with," he said. "So, there's no denying that among the black community there are those concerns. In policing that sometimes it's difficult to see those."