Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton moved Monday to regain control of a police department on the verge of open revolt, after officers defied a request from Bratton and turned their backs on the Mayor at a police funeral for the second time Sunday.
Bratton and de Blasio stood at police headquarters to announce historic lows in overall crime throughout the city – 4.6 percent drop since de Blasio took over City Hall last January.
“It was possible all along to create a safer city and a fairer city,” de Blasio said.
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De Blasio said all major crimes fell, as the city experienced its lowest murder, robbery and burglary numbers in the past 10 years.
The mayor celebrated the drop as a vindication of his administration, even as police unions say he’s sown public distrust in the police force by supporting police reform activists, and cops have drastically reduced the number of arrests.
Both men admonished the hundreds of officers who turned their backs on the mayor at the funeral of Det. Wenjian Liu.
"It just defies a lot of what we all feel is the right and decent thing to do when you're dealing with a family in pain," de Blasio said Monday.
The PBA earlier criticized de Blasio’s willingness to meet with protesters in December, weeks before the mayor agreed to meet with leaders from the city's five police unions – including Lynch – on Dec. 30.
"At a time when I think people felt a tremendous amount of respect for the NYPD, some individual officers showed disrespect to the families and people of this city," de Blasio said.
Days before the funeral for Det. Wenjian Liu, Bratton asked officers not to turn their backs on the Mayor as they did at the funeral of Liu’s partner Rafael Ramos.
Liu and Ramos were murdered by lone gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley on Dec. 20 in broad daylight while the two were in their patrol car in Brooklyn.
While fewer officers participated in the back turning on Sunday, hundreds did so. Bratton said their action was an embarrassment.
"What was the need, in the middle of that ceremony, to engage in a political action?" he asked. "I don't get it and I'm very disappointed – very disappointed – in those who did not respond to my request."
Bratton added: "Come demonstrate outside of City Hall, outside of police headquarters, but don't put on your uniform and go to the funeral."
"This was an organic gesture that started on the streets of New York, and it should be respected," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told reporters on Sunday of the turned backs at the Liu funeral.
De Blasio and Bratton have tied the current tension between the unions and City Hall to former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s failure to conclude a contract with police unions since 2010.
"The backdrop here is about the absence of a contract for years, which is unacceptable," de Blasio said.