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Cuomo calls for a 'societal deep breath' after police killings

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, second from

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, second from left, leaves the Brooklyn home of killed New York City Police Officer Rafael Ramos on the afternoon of December 21, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, standing outside the home of a slain New York City police officer Monday, pleaded for a holiday respite from the heated rhetoric over police confrontations with African-Americans.

"The dialogue has to stop. It's ratcheting up emotions," Cuomo said two days after two NYPD officers were shot to death in their police car. The shooting came in the wake of demonstrations and protests over the most recent death of an African-American suspect detained by police.

Some police officers publicly turned their back on Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to the mayor's comments weeks ago that he is concerned about police interactions that could involve his biracial son. The police union president said de Blasio "had blood on his hands" in the two police officers' deaths by a gunman who said he was retaliating against police.

"Everyone has a point of view," Cuomo said. "We get it, we've heard it."

Cuomo also spoke privately Monday with de Blasio, police union president Patrick Lynch, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists.

Earlier Monday, Cuomo said on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show," "I think it's time for a societal deep breath."

He didn't criticize de Blasio or the police union president for their rhetoric. Cuomo said he "fully supports" the mayor and Lynch as well as community activists, but asks for their cooperation to end their accusations and criticisms.

"I think Mayor de Blasio is doing the best he can under very difficult circumstances," the governor said.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) called for the state to install bulletproof glass in police vehicles, although there was no estimate of the cost.

"We cannot put a price on protecting the men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect us," Boyle said. "When our police officers are safer, we are all safer."

Police officials said the windows were up on the police car, but because the shooter was right up at the glass, protective glass might not have helped.

Outside the home of Wenjian Liu, one of the slain police officers, Cuomo said the Liu family "can't understand why their son, who was a hero and was just trying to help people, is gone."

Cuomo spoke to the family of Officer Rafael Ramos during the weekend. "The parents said to me, why? Why? I have no words," he said. "I can't explain this . . . it is pointless, and it has to stop."

"Let's bring a moment of peace and calm, and then we can move on to a sober debate," the governor said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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