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NYPD Commissioner Bratton says officers who turned their backs to the mayor showed 'selfishness'

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, listens

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, listens as New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton addresses a news conference at New York City Police headquarters on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Police Commissioner William Bratton defended Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday with a stern condemnation of officers who turned their backs to the city's chief executive at slain comrades' funerals.

Standing beside de Blasio at NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan, Bratton criticized the "selfishness" of hundreds of officers outside a Brooklyn funeral home Sunday as the mayor eulogized Officer Wenjian Liu.

The commissioner had issued a memo reminding his force the ceremony was "about grieving, not grievance." He said he was incredulous that some ignored him, though he lauded the "vast majority" who faced de Blasio and honored Liu.

"What was the need -- in the middle of that ceremony -- to engage in a political action?" he asked. "I don't get it. And I'm very disappointed."

Bratton continued: "Come demonstrate outside City Hall. Come demonstrate outside police headquarters, but don't put on your uniform and go to a funeral and engage in a political action."

De Blasio called the demonstrations "disrespectful to the families who had lost their loved one."

Hundreds of officers had also turned their backs to the mayor at the Dec. 27 Queens funeral of Liu's partner, Officer Rafael Ramos. Both Ramos and Liu were posthumously promoted to first-grade detective. Dozens did so Dec. 20, the day the officers were shot dead by an anti-police gunman. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch that night said City Hall had blood on its hands.

Sunday, Lynch said his members "have a right to have our opinion heard" and the officers protested "respectfully." A PBA spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

De Blasio also weighed in on his private meeting Dec. 30 with disgruntled police unions leaders. He called the summit "productive" and said he was willing to keep meeting, though differences cannot be quickly resolved.

De Blasio said he was not worried about the city's prospects for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, despite street protests after the Dec. 3 grand jury decision not to indict an officer in the death of Eric Garner, the killings of Liu and Ramos, and the rift with the police unions.

He said he hoped the selection committee would focus on the city's "ever-decreasing crime" and the NYPD's commitment to "protecting people's democratic rights. "

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