New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton says the rift between the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio — laid bare in the wake of the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer and the subsequent slayings of two officers — will continue for the foreseeable future.
"I think it's probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer," Bratton said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. “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.
"There’s a whole series of local issues that are impacting on our ability to move forward," Bratton continued. "But we will be making that effort. We have to make that effort. We have no other recourse.”
Bratton's comments come a day after the funeral for Rafael Ramos — one of two NYPD officers killed in Brooklyn on Dec. 20 by a gunman who allegedly vowed to retaliate for Garner's killing — drew an estimated 23,000 police officers from around the country. Bratton, Vice President Joe Biden and de Blasio were among those who spoke at Ramos' service. As de Blasio addressed the crowd, hundreds of officers turned their backs on a video screen showing the mayor's eulogy.
“It is unfortunate that we have at this time, when we’ve had such great success in dealing with crime in New York City over the last 21 years, at a time when the city is effectively booming in so many ways, that we have these pent-up frustrations,” Bratton said. “This isn’t just about policing. This is about larger issues. We’re the tip of the iceberg.”
Bratton said some police officers feel that they have been betrayed by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder in the federal response to the killings of Garner and Michael Brown.
"They really do feel under attack, rank-and-file officers and much of American police leadership," he said. "They feel that they are under attack from the federal government at the highest levels. So, that's something we need to understand also, this sense of perception that becomes a reality.
"So, it's going to be a painful process," Bratton added. "It has to be an open process. But the process that has to be engaged in, my mayor, myself, we are committed to engaging in it."
On Fox News Sunday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he had mixed feelings about officers turning their backs on de Blasio.
"I guess as an ex-mayor, I feel uncomfortable about that, you turn your back on the mayor,” Giuliani said. “On the other hand, I think at this point I have to say, he’s bringing it on himself. He should have apologized.
“He should have apologized, not for the murder — he’s not responsible for the murder, he shouldn’t resign, he’s been elected by the people — but he did create an atmosphere of anti-police bias and feeling for a long, long time,” Giuliani continued. “It’s time to say, ‘Maybe I had the wrong perception of my police department. First of all, my police department is not a white police department. Everybody’s a minority in the New York City Police Department.’”