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Mayor Bill de Blasio, amid scattered boos, commends NYPD grads for following 'noble calling'

Members of the New York City Police Department's

Members of the New York City Police Department's graduating class salute slain NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Weijian Liu during the graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio commended 884 new members of the NYPD Monday for answering a "noble calling" during a somber graduation ceremony that included tributes to two fallen city police officers and impromptu reminders of recent turmoil in the department.

"You will stare down the danger. You will keep the peace," de Blasio told the stoic graduates in dress blue.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton spoke to the new officers about the funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos and the upcoming service for Officer Wenjian Liu.

The officers were shot to death Dec. 20 in Brooklyn. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, killed himself shortly afterward. The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City said it has raised $120,000 in pledges through the Fallen Heroes Relief Effort to honor Liu and Ramos and support their families.

"This past Saturday, we buried a hero of the city," Bratton said of Ramos, adding of Liu, "This coming Sunday, we will bury another. Partners in life and now, partners in eternity."

The class members, who were born in 51 different countries and speak 59 languages, wore black mourning bands over their shields and bowed their heads during a moment of silence for Ramos and Liu.

De Blasio endured audible booing as he began to speak. About half a dozen members of the audience -- which numbered in the thousands -- turned their backs to de Blasio, repeating previous silent protests by officers against the mayor. Mayoral spokeswoman Marti Adams noted that former mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani had been booed at NYPD graduations.

A man in the audience interjected a reminder of the current rift between de Blasio and officers as the mayor told the graduates what awaits.

"You will confront all the problems that plague our society, problems you didn't create," de Blasio told the class.

"You created them," the man shouted in response.

The comment was met with laughter and applause in the audience. De Blasio continued, citing poverty, mental illness and illegal guns as problems awaiting the officers.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch, who has led the charge against de Blasio, was on stage with police and elected officials. His son, Kevin, was among the graduates.

De Blasio is scheduled to host a meeting Tuesday with leaders of all five police unions.

At the end of the graduation inside Madison Square Garden, the new officers chose to forgo the traditional celebratory dropping of confetti and tossing of white gloves. Instead, the graduates looked up and saluted photos of Ramos and Liu projected on arena screens.

Afterward, academy graduates said they were committed to serving the city despite the loss of their comrades and strained relations with the community and the mayor.

"We should go out there and support our city and try to stay safe out there," said new Officer Scott Galligan, 24, of Huntington. "You've always got to watch your back, and you've always got to protect your brothers and sisters."

Julia Goldberg, 25, of the Upper West Side, said, "It's a tough time right now, as everybody knows, and it's nice to see the mayor here with his support. We just have to work together and stay strong."

With Anthony DeStefano

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