NEW YORK—The slaying of two police officers Saturday afternoon in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, may add strain to an already tense relationship between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police community.
At 2:47 p.m. Saturday, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot both officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, in the head, while they were still in their police car. The men soon succumbed to their injuries.
Brinsley had traveled from Baltimore, Md., intending to kill police officers. Following the shooting, he then ducked into a subway stop where he committed suicide.
The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.
— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 21, 2014
There have been seven instances since 1972 of police partners being murdered together, according to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
A week before the tragedy, two police officers were assaulted by seven protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge during an Eric Garner protest, raising tension between Mayor Bill de Blasio and police.
The tragedy further fuels the tension between the mayor, whose campaign promises include a vow to reform the police department, and the police, who feel that he has not supported them enough in recent weeks, because he has not spoken on behalf of the police and said of his biracial son that he and his wife had to “literally train their son how to handle encounters with police.”
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Retired second grade police detective Christine Leung, 51, who resides in Lower Manhattan, said in a telephone interview that the mayor did not promote a culture of respecting police authority.
“He [De Blasio] lost police morale,” said Leung. “He definitely did not support officers enough to do their job. If you don’t stand behind your police, it’s going to be chaos.”
In the past month, protests have continued, calling for more accountability for police brutality, following the grand jury decision on Staten Island not to indict a white police officer for placing Eric Garner, who was black, in a chokehold, which contributed to his death.
Officers have been pulled from other boroughs into Manhattan and Brooklyn to police the protests, costing the department millions in overtime dollars. Commissioner Bill Bratton has called it a “significant drain on manpower.”
Officers are upset with the mayor, according to a statement from head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch. A form started by the union has been circulating around the police force in which an officer can request the mayor to stay away from the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty.
When the mayor visited Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, a line of police officers and union leaders, keeping their backs turned to him, was caught on camera. At Saturday evening’s press conference, the mayor took a backseat to Commissioner Bratton.
Several former or current members of the police force have spoken up about the mayor’s relationship with police.
A memo that was allegedly circulated by a police union stated: “The mayors [sic] hands are literally dripping with our blood” and the NYPD has become a “wartime police department.”
Posted on Twitter by AOL managing editor of breaking news, Ryan Gorman, the memo recommended that two squad cars be sent to each 911 call and no arrests be made unless “absolutely necessary.”
Several former police commissioners were invited on Fox News Saturday night, where they called for the mayor’s resignation.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on national television that there have been “four months of propaganda … that everybody should hate the police.”
Critics also cited the protesters’ negative views of the police as having contributed to Saturday’s tragedy.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki wrote on Twitter, “Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio.” His tweet drew the ire of many Eric Garner protesters.
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) December 21, 2014
Detective Specialist Martin Green tweeted Saturday evening, “I am begging the mayor to stay away from this incident. There is no room for politics here. This climate is a result of politics.”
Green, who has been with the force for 15 years, elaborated on his tweet in a telephone interview saying, “I’m so aggravated by what the current climate is. I don’t blame him [de Blasio] for this [tragedy]. There’s no way he wanted this. I just blame inexperience for it.”
I am begging the Mayor to stay away from this incident. There is no room for politics here.This climate is a result of politics. #NYPD
— Det. Martin Green (@NYPD_CTTF) December 20, 2014
He said he wouldn’t be surprised to hear of more shootings and tragedies occurring with the current tension between New York’s community and the police.
“I can see it happening again, because the amount of threats being put out there are pretty legit,” said Green.
— Ryan Gorman (@GormoJourno) December 21, 2014