New York mayor meets main police unions to ease tensions

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio met on Tuesday with representatives of the main police unions, as he sought to ease tensions exacerbated by the murder of two officers ambushed in their patrol car.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 31, 2014, 10:32 AM IST

New York: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio met on Tuesday with representatives of the main police unions, as he sought to ease tensions exacerbated by the murder of two officers ambushed in their patrol car.

The meeting, also attended by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, "focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together," the mayor`s spokesman Phil Walzak said in a statement.

But representatives of the five major police unions said in a brief statement after the meeting that no progress had been made.

De Blasio is wrestling with the biggest crisis to hit his administration since he took office a year ago, with police lambasting him for telling the public he had urged his biracial son to take extra care when dealing with officers.

Some police representatives -- including from two of the unions that met with de Blasio -- have gone so far as to link the statement to the recent double murder of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by a mentally-disturbed gunman who committed suicide after the act.

"The mayor and police commissioner remain committed to keeping crime in New York City at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day, and finding ways to bring police and the community closer together," Walzak said.

Pat Lynch, who heads the city`s largest union -- the Patrolmen`s Benevolent Association -- said "our main concern is the safety of our police officers of every rank, and the safety of the citizens that we proudly serve."

"Our thoughts today is that action speaks louder than words, and time will tell," added Lynch, whose union represents tens of thousands of officers.

Police turned their backs on de Blasio when he arrived at the hospital where the bodies of Ramos and Liu had been transferred on December 20.

Hundreds again turned their backs to the mayor during Ramos`s funeral Saturday, with several more doing so during a graduation ceremony for the New York Police Department`s fresh recruits on Monday.

De Blasio has kept a low profile in the past week, refusing to speak to the press and only appearing at a few public events where he called for unity and respect for the families of the victims.

He had campaigned last year on promises of improving community relations with the police.

Bratton, the police chief, has repeatedly defended his boss in recent days amid the barrage of criticism.