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Cuomo Backs de Blasio, Urges "Cooling-Off Period"

Cuomo Backs de Blasio, Urges "Cooling-Off Period"

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - December 22, 2014

In the wake of the execution-style killing of two New York police officers, which accentuated tensions between the city’s police department and its mayor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Monday for a “cooling off period.” 

The Democratic governor also expressed support for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had come under fire from police officers, union leaders and others for his response to the Eric Garner case and rhetoric they say started with his campaign for office. 

“I think Mayor de Blasio is doing the best he can under very difficult circumstances to hear all sides of the matter. You have polarization in this city and that’s the fundamental issues. You have two different points of view that right now are seemingly irreconcilable,” Cuomo said Monday in an interview with WNYC radio.  

“It’s time for a societal deep breath. We need a cooling-off period,” added Cuomo, who visited the families of the slain officers over the weekend.  

The two-term governor said the city needs time for reflection and calm during the holiday season. When the state legislature returns in January, Cuomo said he will talk about systemic law enforcement reforms, noting concerns about bullet-proof windows for police cars, benefits for widows and children of slain officers, and changes in grand jury secrecy. 

The weekend’s killings, in which the two officers were ambushed while sitting in their patrol car on Saturday afternoon, have rocked the city, which has been at the center of a broader debate about police and community relations. The issue has been especially contentious for de Blasio, a liberal who has a fractured relationship with police. The mayor has invoked his biracial son, Dante, on different occasions while speaking about policing policies such as stop-and-frisk. Upon becoming mayor, de Blasio replaced chief of police Ray Kelly, who over the weekend criticized the mayor’s “anti-police campaign.” After the decision by a grand jury not to indict officers in the death of Eric Garner during an arrest, de Blasio said he has encouraged his son to be cautious around police.  

Over the weekend, police union leader Patrick Lynch said de Blasio and his administration have “blood on the hands” regarding the double homicide. Police officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he entered a press conference on Saturday evening.

The weekend’s shootings have place a spotlight on both the mayor and Cuomo regarding their handling of the situation and events to come. Cuomo said he is supportive of the union leaders and activists on both sides of the issue. 

“I don’t want to point fingers. I don’t want to cast blame,” he told WNYC. “Let’s calm it down.”

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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