NYPD commissioner says cops feel 'under attack' from Obama, Holder
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton pulled no punches in interviews on yesterday's talk shows. On Meet the Press, Bratton said that police officers and leadership across the country feel "under attack" from the highest reaches of the federal government.
"They really do feel under attack, rank and file officers and much of American police leadership, that they feel that they are under attack from the federal government at the highest levels," Bratton said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"So that’s something we need to understand also, this sense of perception that becomes a reality," he said. "We have a lot of talking we’re going to have to do here to understand both sides of this issue. This is not a one-sided issue."
Bratton appeared on two of the Sunday shows one day after a funeral in New York City for one of two officers killed in the line of duty on Saturday by a man who posted messages on social media indicating he wanted to attack police because of the deaths of two African-American men killed by police.
President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio have come under criticism from police for too closely siding with protestors complaining about police actions.
Bratton said Obama should take care to consider the views of police, and to "see why they have the anxieties, the perceptions that they have."
Obama, while expressing appreciation for the daily work of police officers, has put forward reforms in response to the protests, such as funding for police body cameras and a task force on police tactics.
Bratton also said that the war between the police unions and Mayor de Blasio is likely to continue for a while:
"I think it’s probably a rift that's going to go on for a while longer, however we will be making efforts to sit down and talk with the union leaders in particular," Bratton said.
Some police officers outside the funeral for Rafael Ramos on Saturday turned their backs as De Blasio spoke.
"I certainly don’t support that action yesterday," Bratton said of the gesture in a separate interview Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I think it was very inappropriate at that event.”
Bratton had previously said the move was inappropriate when officers turned their backs on De Blasio at a press conference the night the officers were killed.
Bratton said the police and mayor tensions go beyond the immediate issue.
"The issues go far beyond race relations in this city," he said. "They involve labor contracts, they involve a lot of history."
De Blasio has only himself to blame. During the campaign for mayor, he severely criticized the NYPD tactic of "stop and frisk," implying that it was racist because it targeted minorities. Obviously, the mayor got off on the wrong foot with the cops, and he hasn't fixed relations with them in the interim.
Bratton has tried to straddle the distance between the mayor and the rank and file, trying to keep open the lines of communication between the two sides so there isn't a total breakdown. But unless and until de Blasio performs a public mea culpa, the divide will only get wider.