A majority of New York voters, across racial lines, disapprove of the decision by some city police officers to turn their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio at the funerals of officers slain in an ambush, according to the results of a new poll released by Quinnipiac University Thursday.
Sixty-nine percent of black, white and Hispanic voters surveyed disapproved of the demonstration while 27 percent approved of it, the poll found. Asked if discipline in the force had broken down, 52 percent of respondents believed it had while 38 percent said no. The poll surveyed 1,182 New York City voters from Jan. 7 through Jan. 14.
The survey is the first one published since relations between de Blasio and the NYPD publicly broke down, following the murder of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Officers turned their backs to the mayor when he arrived at the hospital where the officers were pronounced dead, and at their funerals. The killings came as New York was gripped by protests against police brutality, ignited by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and that of Eric Garner, who was put in a choke hold by an NYPD officer.
Comments by Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, that “blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor,” were deemed “too extreme” by 77 percent of respondents. The survey's authors further noted that no party, gender, racial, borough or age group surveyed found the comments "appropriate." And, 43 percent of those surveyed said that they felt Lynch was a “mostly negative” force in the city, while 27 percent disagreed with this assessment.
However, a strong racial divide was evident in voters' opinions of whether de Blasio supports the city's police, the poll found. Sixty-nine percent of black voters and 53 percent of Hispanic respondents said that de Blasio does support the police. Only 30 percent of white voters agreed with this, while 49 percent surveyed said that he did not.
Responses were also divided along racial lines when it came to who voters held accountable for the deteriorating relations between the mayor's office and the police department. Sixty-one percent of white voters blamed de Blasio while 69 percent of black voters blamed the police. But, Hispanic voters were divided with 45 percent blaming the mayor and 42 percent blaming police, the survey found.
There were some positive notes as well in the survey results, with 56 percent of voters approving of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's job performance while 31 percent disapproved of it. At the same time, 75 percent of respondents approved of the job the police were doing in the community.