NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio was set Tuesday to meet with leaders of police unions who have blamed him for the city’s volatile climate – a day after he faced some boos and catcalls while addressing recruits at a police graduation ceremony.
De Blasio’s office on Monday announced plans for the meeting with the unions – including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association – whose leaders have been vocal about accusing the mayor of being antagonistic toward police.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, crisis expert Mike Paul said it would take a lot more than saying he is sorry for the mayor to fix the growing rift between him and the NYPD.
“Just a simple apology is not going to work today,” Paul said. “You have to show not only a repentant heart in your apology. They want to see a change of behavior.”
The Sergeants’ Benevolent association issued a tweet demanding just that.
The union said in another tweet that de Blasion’s actions have “enabled this city to become a lawless city in a lot of ways.”
“Hopefully, they can just work together to settle differences,” said James McGeown, commander of the 45th Precinct in the Bronx.
At a vigil to honor slain officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu Tuesday night outside the 45th Precinct police station, many felt hopeful about the meeting planned for Tuesday.
“If we got to knock, scream, kick, flip chairs, we do that inside the room. But at the end of the day when we walk out, everybody’s on the same page,” said City Councilman Andy King (D-12th.)
On Monday, de Blasio spoke Monday at the police recruits’ graduation at Madison Square Garden.
The 884 new police officers sat stoically in their seats when de Blasio was introduced. But some could be heard booing and heckling the mayor in the seats reserved for the cadets’ family and friends. Others cheered and applauded.
“It takes a special kind of person to put their lives on the line for others, to stare down the danger,” he said. “Because that’s what you will do. You will stare down the danger. You will keep the peace.”
He then continued: “You’ll confront all the problems that plague our society — problems that you didn’t create.”
But immediately after the mayor made that remark, someone from the crowd yelled, “You did!” That heckle was met with laughter and some applause from the crowd.
About a dozen or so people in the stands stood with their backs turned to de Blasio. But he continued praising the officers and received polite applause when he finished speaking.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who spoke after de Blasio, acknowledged the unease.
“We live in a very difficult time, at this time, in this country, in this city, in this department,” he told the graduates. “But we will work forward through it. We always do.”
Still, pride resonated throughout Madison Square Garden as the NYPD welcomed its newest members, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“I’m happy because of the prestige of the NYPD and I just want to go out there and do my best to help support the city and help look after the people of New York,” said graduate police officer Chas Briant.
“It definitely is a troubling time for our department,” said graduate Ryan Jones. “But we’re very excited to get out there and start making a difference.”
“It’s nice to see the mayor here as a support. We just have to work together and stay strong,” said graduate Julia Goldberg.
De Blasio departed the arena without taking questions.
The graduation comes two days after hundreds of officers turned their backs to a video monitor as they watched de Blasio eulogize Officer Rafael Ramos at his funeral in Queens.
Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Bratton condemned the move, calling it “very disrespectful.”
“I certainly don’t support that action,” he said. “That funeral was held to honor Officer Ramos and to bring politics, to bring issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate.”