New York police commissioner urges calm in police ties with mayor – Reuters

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City’s police commissioner urged an easing of tensions on Monday after some in his force, responding to the fatal shooting of two officers, accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of being insufficiently supportive of police.

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday condemned Saturday’s attack in which a 28-year-old man with a troubled history killed the two officers in their patrol car to avenge the killings by white officers of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. The gunman then killed himself.

Several police officers turned their backs on de Blasio in protest when he arrived at the Brooklyn hospital where the two officers were taken after they were shot. The police union said the mayor had blood on his hands.

De Blasio had sympathized with protesters who took to the streets after grand juries declined in the last few weeks to charge white officers in the killings. De Blasio, a liberal Democrat who was elected last year on a promise to advance civil rights after two decades of his predecessors emphasizing law and order policies that helped New York shed its reputation for violent crime.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told NBC’s “Today” program: “This issue is really starting to go down partisan lines, Republican/Democrat. This is something that should be bringing us all together, not taking us apart.”

Bratton said he considered it inappropriate for police officers to turn their backs on the mayor. He said labor talks and pension concerns were fueling their discontent.

“There’s a lot of moving currents that have created the tensions,” Bratton said.

He also said that he had not seen such friction since he began policing in New York in the 1970s, a time of unrest that also divided the city.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole called the killings of police officers a “heinous and cowardly” attack.

“There’s just no reason that we should have to be dealing with this,” Cole told reporters. “One of the main focuses that we’ve had in the Department of Justice is officer safety and making sure that we have procedures in place and training in place to encourage that.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to consider legislative ideas put forward by activists on both sides, including proposals to make the grand jury process more transparent and to equip patrol cars with bulletproof windows.

“I’d like to get past this period and bring the temperature down,” Cuomo told WNYC-FM radio on Monday. “Let’s bring a moment of peace and calm and then we can move on and have a rational, sober conversation.”

Investigators are checking into whether the gunman, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, attended any of the protests against police violence and said the suspect had made “anti-police” comments online.

(Additional reporting by Bill Trott, Susan Heavey and Ian Simpson in Washington and Richard Weizel in Milford, Connecticut; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Howard Goller and Grant McCool)

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