Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to cool things off after police union leaders issued a fiery defense of the officers involved in the Eric Garner case, but his words may not be enough to smooth things over with the public or the police. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio's Italian vacation may have gone off without much of a hitch in the wake of Eric Garner's death, but the controversy over the case did not go away in his absence. It only intensified. Now, the mayor is trying to put out the fire.
"We're going to keep people safe, and we're going to create mutual respect between police and community, and we're going to create fairness and consistency, and that's what we're going to do," de Blasio said. "So I'm not worried if there's critics."
The critics, though, represent members of the mayor's own administration. Police union leaders are strongly defending the officers who confronted Garner, and their stance is putting the mayor in a difficult spot as he tries to convince the public that he is reforming the department and improving its relationship with New Yorkers.
"Union leaders will say what union leaders say," de Blasio said. "I don't let the rhetoric of union leaders stand in the way of getting the job done."
The mayor stood by the medical examiner's report, which declared Garner's death a homicide and said he had died from a chokehold.
"I have a lot of respect for the medical examiner's office in New York City," de Blasio said. "I think it's the gold standard in this country."
While trying to dismiss the union leaders' stance, the mayor is, at the same time, praising the work of police officers in general. He said he has immense respect for the men and women of the New York City Police Department.
The mayor is also defending the police department's focus on low-level offenses. Critics have recently charged that black and Hispanic New Yorkers are being targeted by police officers who are cracking down on quality-of-life crimes like drinking on the sidewalk or having a dog without a license.
"Everyone should be treated equally, and that's the whole approach," de Blasio said.
As the mayor is finding out, what he thinks should happen in the NYPD does not always occur.