A day after hundreds of NYPD officers, in an act of defiance, turned their back on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke at a funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos, who was killed along with Officer Wenjian Liu earlier this month, New York City Police Commissioner defended the mayor and said the officers' act was "very inappropriate."
"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," said Commissioner Bill Bratton on CBS' Face The Nation. "He is the mayor of New York. He was there representing the citizens of New York to express their remorse and their regret at that death.
"At the same time," he added, "it is reflective unfortunately of the feelings of some of our officers at this juncture—about not just the mayor but, I think, about some of the many issues that are afflicting the city at this time." He admitted that "morale in the department at this time is low, there's no getting around that," noting contract negotiations with the city as well as national dialogues about relations between police and communities of color.
However, Bratton defended de Blasio: "This is a mayor that cares very deeply about New York City police officers, cares very deeply about the divide in this city at this time and is working very hard to heal that divide."
The relationship between de Blasio and some of the city's police officers grew tense after comments de Blasio made in the wake of grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who had killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner. De Blasio said he and his wife had found it necessary "to literally train" their son Dante how to handle encounters with police.
"What parents have done for decades, who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have a connection with a police officer," de Blasio said at the time, prompting the head of the largest New York police union to say the mayor "threw cops under the bus."
In a separate interview on Face the Nation, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of the most vocal critics of de Blasio's views on race and his relations with the police, agreed with Bratton that it was disrespectful for police officers to turn their backs on de Blasio.
"The mayor is not in any way to be treated with people turning their backs," said Giuliani. "Doesn’t matter if you like the mayor or you don't like the mayor; you have to respect the mayor’s position."
However, Giuliani by stood by earlier remarks that the mayor had used anti-police rhetoric and should apologize for appearing to side with protesters over the NYPD.
"He created an impression with the police that he was on the side of the protesters," the former mayor said. "Now, some of those protesters were entirely legitimate, but some of those protesters were horrible, yelling, 'Kill the police, kill the police, kill the police!'"
Giuliani also reiterated his criticism of President Barack Obama's statements on police issues and his relationship with Reverend Al Sharpton.
"If he would like to have a poster boy for hating the police, it's Al Sharpton," said Giuliani. "You make Al Sharpton a close adviser, you're going to turn the police and America against you. You're going to tell the police in America, 'We don't understand you.' I saw this man help cause riots in New York. I've heard his anti-police invective first-hand."