But Mayor Says He Wants To Address Issues, Ensure Cops Are Safe

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Bill de Blasio explained Wednesday why he won’t apologize to police for past comments he made, but he also sought to reach out to cops, insisting he’s ready to hear what they need.

Police union leaders have called for de Blasio to apologize for not supporting the NYPD following the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white officer in the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man.

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“Things that I have said that I believe are what I believe, and you can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs,” de Blasio said, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.

“There’s going to be emotion,” the mayor added. “There’s going to be rhetoric. There’s going to be some things said that shouldn’t be said. But I think underneath that, there are some real issues that we can address.”

The rift with police has been a major distraction for de Blasio in recent weeks.

Immediately after the Garner decision, de Blasio told reporters that he and his wife have spoken to their son, Dante, about “how to take special care with any encounter he may have with police officers.”

The comments angered Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who accused the mayor of throwing police “under the bus.”

After Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were gunned down in their squad car Dec. 20 by a gunman who said he was seeking revenge for the police-involved deaths of Garner and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Lynch said de Blasio had “blood on his hands.”

Some officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he walked into the hospital following the officers’ deaths. They did the same at the funerals of both slain officers.

De Blasio has since been looking to patch up his relationship with police.

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In response to Garner’s death, the City Council proposed a bill that would make chokeholds illegal. But the mayor said he won’t sign it if it passes.

“I don’t believe that enacting a law which would make it a criminal offense to utilize a chokehold is appropriate because I believe there are exceptional situations in which the life of an officer may be at stake,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio also said he wants to be sure police get everything they need in order to be safe.

Critics say the mayor’s outreach is too little, too late.

“He’s never going to win the police back,” former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on WABC Radio. “That train has gone through the station. The apology was necessary two, three weeks ago. But at least he doesn’t have to make it worse.”

Giuliani also heaped praise on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has been caught in the middle of the war of words.

“I don’t know anybody else that can thread this needle the way Bill Bratton can,” said Giuliani, adding that law enforcement should be de Blasio’s top priority.

De Blasio said he expects demonstrations against police to start again Thursday, but he has put some of the marchers on notice.

“There is a small group that has consistently used absolutely unacceptable, reprehensible language towards officers,” the mayor said. “And they have a constitutional right to do it, but they should stop doing it.”

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