New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton lambasted the NYPD officers who turned their backs on the mayor during Wenjian Liu’s funeral on Sunday.
“I just don’t understand it,” said Bratton, speaking Monday during a press conference at City Hall about the city’s 2014 crime statistics (PDF report here). “What is the need, in the middle of that ceremony, to engage in a political action? I’m disappointed.”
Bratton said that of the more than 25,000 police officers who attended Liu’s funeral, those who turned their backs politicized it.
“The selfishness of that action — funerals aren’t a place for that,” Bratton added. “Don’t put on your uniform and go to a funeral and engage in a political action. I feel strongly about that. I do.”
At the event, hundreds turned their backs to a video screen while Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogized Liu, who was fatally shot by Ismaaiyl Brinsley on December 20 in Brooklyn. Liu and partner Rafael Ramos were both killed while sitting in their squad car.
Bratton said the protesters “embarrassed themselves” and took media attention away from Liu.
De Blasio shared Bratton’s consternation, saying the protest “[defied] the right and decent thing to do when you’re dealing with a family in pain.”
“They were disrespectful to the families who’d lost their loved one…and they were disrespectful to the people of this city,” de Blasio said. “At a time when people were showing tremendous support for the NYPD…some individual officers showed disrespect.”
Many rank-and-file officers have of late pointed their ire at de Blasio, blaming him for inflaming hostility against police, particularly following his description, earlier this month, of the lengths he goes to protect his son Dante from rogue cops. Previously, the officers turned their backs at the mayor at Rafael Ramos’s funeral and at a press conference when the officers’ murder was announced.
But Bratton barely acknowledged the slowdown, except to say that a reduction in court summonses could “save the city money” and that he was waiting until the end of the week before taking any action.
“The crime numbers are still going down,” Bratton said. “Officers are still in the field. If in fact we feel…we are engaged in some type of job action, we will deal with it very forcefully. Over half of the members of this department live in New York City. If you think those officers are going to risk the safety of their families — I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
And Bratton answered a question about department morale with this:
“I’ve already indicated that morale in the department is not where I’d like it to be. I’ve been in the business forty-some odd years. That’s not new. Morale oftentimes is an individual issue. Do they like who they work with, do they like where they work?…[I]n terms of morale, it’s often very dependent on their particular circumstances. I think there’s a number of issues at play, certainly at this time, that impact morale.”