Mayor Bill de Blasio sought Thursday to reassure the NYPD that he respects its work after winning election as a vocal critic of the department, telling a class of 650 police recruits "there is literally no higher calling than protecting others."
He swore in the recruits at Queens College, his first such ceremony since becoming mayor, and told them, "You happen to be joining the most dedicated, the most effective, the most celebrated police force in this entire world."
De Blasio, whose campaign platform included calls to end what he denounced as stop-and-frisk abuses, has said he will drop Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appeal of a federal ruling that found the tactic in many cases discriminated against minorities.
He told the recruits they should aspire to keep the city safe while improving police and community relations, and at a later unrelated news conference told reporters many beat cops had told him privately that they didn't agree with the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policies.
"I happened to disagree with what Mayor Bloomberg did. I happened to disagree with what Commissioner (Ray) Kelly did on issues like stop-and-frisk, but I never thought that reflected on the quality of the men and women in uniform," he told reporters.
Police Commissioner William Bratton, appointed to replace Kelly, said in an earlier news conference Thursday that currently, both stop-and-frisk rates and crime rates are low.
Speaking to the recruits during the ceremony, Bratton said the mayor is "committed first and foremost to the issue of public safety."