NEW YORK - A day after the funeral of one of two police officers gunned down in their patrol car, the city's police commissioner on Sunday called for a "lot less rhetoric and a lot more dialogue" to defuse the tension between police officers and the population they protect.
Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Commissioner William Bratton said the "pent-up frustrations" that have caused people to take to the streets in recent weeks go far beyond policing policies across the nation.
"This is about the continuing poverty rates, the continuing growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor. It's still about unemployment issues," he said. "There are so many national issues that have to be addressed that it isn't just policing, as I think we all well know."
Bratton said rank-and-file officers and much of America's police leadership has felt under attack, including "from the federal government at the highest levels."
He urged: "See us. See the police. See why they have the anxieties and the perceptions they have."
Bratton also appeared on CBS' Face the Nation, where he defended Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying it was wrong for hundreds of police officers to turn their backs to a video monitor outside a Queens church as de Blasio spoke at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos.
"I certainly don't support that action," he said. "That funeral was held to honor Officer Ramos. And to bring politics, to bring issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate."
He acknowledged, though, that the morale of officers was low and said their actions "unfortunately" reflected the feelings of some toward the mayor. Some police officers blame de Blasio for creating an atmosphere of negativity toward the New York Police Department in the city after a grand jury declined to charge an officer in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.
The gesture at Ramos' funeral came amid contentious contract negotiations with the city. The rank-and-file police union did not claim credit for the symbolic protest, and its head, Patrick Lynch, repeatedly dodged reporters' attempts to ask about it after Ramos' funeral.
It was not clear whether officers planned to turn their backs on de Blasio again at the funeral for Ramos' partner, Wenjian Liu. Arrangements for his service have not yet been announced.
Bratton said de Blasio was "totally supportive" of officers and had contributed hundreds of millions of dollars outside the department's budget this year, much of it focused on officer safety enhancements.
De Blasio stayed out of sight Sunday, staging no public events and continuing to let Bratton hold center stage in the week since the double murder.
The five city police unions are to meet this week with Bratton.
Ramos and his partner were shot to death as they sat in their patrol car in daylight. After the officers' deaths, the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley killed himself. In online posts shortly before the attack, Brinsley referenced the killings of two black men by white police officers.