NEW YORK (AP) — Most New Yorkers didn't approve of police officers turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at the funerals of two officers shot to death in their patrol car, or of the comment by a union leader that the mayor had "blood on his hands," according to a poll released Thursday.
The Quinnipiac University poll found that 69 percent disapproved of the silent protest among police at the funerals of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu and 77 percent considered union leader Patrick Lynch's comment "too extreme."
The poll comes amid a rancorous time between police and the mayor that ramped up during protests over a Dec. 3 grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner and hit a fever pitch in the weeks since the officers were shot dead Dec. 20 by a mentally disturbed man who vowed online to kill two "pigs."
Lynch, who heads the powerful Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said after the officers' deaths that de Blasio had encouraged anti-police sentiment and had "blood on his hands." At the funerals, thousands of officers turned their backs on the mayor.
Among the poll results, 77 percent said relations between de Blasio and the police are "generally bad." Of those, 45 percent said de Blasio is to blame, while 43 percent blame police. Overall, 56 percent of New Yorkers approved of the way police are doing their jobs and about half approved of how de Blasio is handling crime. Fifty-six percent approved of the job Police Commissioner William Bratton was doing, up from his previous rating.
The poll surveyed 1,182 New York City voters by phone from Jan. 7 to 14. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
A spokesman for the mayor didn't address Thursday's poll specifically.
"The mayor is committed to keeping crime low, ensuring the brave men and women of the NYPD have the tools needed to keep them safe on the job, and bringing police and community closer together," spokesman Phil Walzak said.
In the past few days, the mayor has made a series of moves to align himself more closely with police. On Tuesday, he announced he'd veto a City Council bill that would make chokeholds illegal. The measure is opposed by the NYPD and was drafted after Garner's death in July. The practice is already banned by the NYPD.
And on Wednesday, de Blasio used his toughest rhetoric yet to condemn protesters who threaten to harm police. He said that some of the demonstrators "say really inappropriate, reprehensible things about our police officers — things that I think are actually quite sick, anything that suggests violence toward police."
According to the poll, only 18 percent had a favorable opinion of Lynch. The longtime union leader had no comment Thursday.
The poll results also come amid a burst of dissension within the union ranks and Lynch. At a union lunch this week in Queens, a shouting match broke out over Lynch's public battle with de Blasio, with some delegates suggesting his methods weren't effective. Lynch, 51, is seeking a fifth term in June at the union that represents 24,000 cops. No challenger has come forward.
De Blasio suggested that the dissension within the union meeting was because Lynch did not speak for all of his members, many of whom now want to "let their voices be heard."
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.