NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton is defending his comments that morale in the nation’s largest police force was “awful” when he took over.

Bill Bratton told reporters Wednesday he stands by what he said in a TV interview over the weekend.

In the interview, Bratton said that under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, the police tactic known as stop-and-frisk was overused and the department had become “beat down.”

“That’s what I was told in person by the various union leadership delegates, by individual officers, and that’s certainly what was reflected in the extensive focus groups that we conducted at all ranks in the department,” Bratton told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

The top union official for patrolmen also said Wednesday morale was bad.

Bratton said his comments were not “meant as a shot” at Kelly, and he praised his predecessor for bringing down crime to record levels.

“I’ve got the greatest respect for Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg and what they did,” Bratton said. “Do I have differences of leadership and management opinion about how some of that was achieved? Certainly.”

Bratton accused the media of trying to gin up the story into a slugfest.

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