If New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton hoped to repair dismal relations with his force, the internal memo he wrote asking officers not to turn their backs at fallen Officer Wenjian Liu’s funeral on Sunday fell abysmally short.
Bratton has said he is not going to punish officers who turned their backs to the mayor funeral for Officer Liu, but he urged them to shelve their anger, calling the turned-back gesture “inappropriate,” the New York Post reported.
The text of the letter is below:
“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance.
Last Saturday, the New York City Police Department buried a hero. Tens of thousands of officers from our department and hundreds of other departments came to show respect for Detective First Grade Rafael Ramos. His family witnessed the kind of love that only his second family in blue could display. But for the last seven days, the city’s and the country’s consciousness of that funeral has focused on an act of disrespect shown by a portion of those tens of thousands of officers. It was not all the officers, and it was not disrespect directed at Detective Ramos, but all the officers were painted by it. And it stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’s life and sacrifice. That was not the intent, I know, but it was the result.
On Sunday, we will gather together again, with the rest of New York City and law enforcement officials nationwide, to mourn for Detective First Grade Wenjian Liu. We gather to support his parents, his widow, and everyone who is there to remember a life tragically cut short.
The assassination of Detectives Liu and Ramos was an attack on us all. As a cop, one who lived and worked through the assassination threats of the 1970s, I understand that emotions are high. I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.”
The message from the police commissioner is to be read and/or viewed and displayed at all roll calls on Saturday January 3, and Sunday January 4.
Many officers were unhappy about Bratton’s directive and see it as an attempt to help a failing mayor reset his image.
“Obviously, he’s doing this to help his boss, de Blasio,” one unnamed police source told the Post. “He’s taking his side. He’s trying to protect him and not make him look bad.”
Another city officer said he turned his back on de Blasio during Ramos’ funeral because “I feel Mayor de Blasio does not like cops, and I would never do anything to disrespect another cop or his family.”
“He cares about his boss more than the 35,000 cops he’s in charge of,” he said of Bratton.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, blasted the mayor for having his commissioner do his bidding.
“If you’re the mayor and you have to direct the commissioner to respect you, it’s a total embarrassment for the office,” Mullins said. “Are they going to order cops to go have dinner with him next?”
Bratton does have some support in asking officers to stop turning their backs on their bosses. Roy Richter, president of the agency’s Captains Endowment Association, said he’s encouraging cops to use “cold, steely silence” instead of turning their backs.
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