Gov. Cuomo, New York City police union leaders talk

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 7:10 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The growing discord between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's Police Department must be resolved, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, a day after meeting with city police union leaders amid a wider debate about law enforcement conduct and officer safety.

Cuomo dismissed questions about whether he would act as a mediator between City Hall and the New York Police Department. But he did say the conflict needs to be resolved.

"Everybody in New York City knows that this situation is unsustainable," he said. "It's not healthy and it's not productive. ... We see on the TV terrorism is alive and well and growing. This city and this state are a possible terrorist target. So this is at least a distraction that we don't need."

Police unions say de Blasio hasn't supported the rank and file in the wake of protests following a grand jury's decision not to indict a white officer in the chokehold death of unarmed black suspect Eric Garner. The tension worsened following the shooting deaths of two officers, prompting speculation that Cuomo might seek to intervene.

The Democratic governor's closed-door meeting with union leaders on Tuesday focused on a "range of issues," according to Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa, including a police discipline bill on Cuomo's desk and possible proposals for the legislative session.

Cuomo's administration is reviewing options for addressing concerns about the handling of police misconduct as well as proposals to protect officers against violence. The governor said Wednesday that it's too early to discuss specifics.

Proposals from lawmakers include better training for police and the appointment of a special prosecutor to review police shootings of unarmed civilians. Suggestions for helping law enforcement include bullet-proof glass in police cruisers and tougher penalties for those who assault or threaten officers.

Cuomo said he is doing "a full review" of the options.

"If the public doesn't trust the justice system, you have a problem," he said, before adding that "the Police Department has to feel respected and protected. Why? Because they deserve it."