Wall Street Journal
Updated Jan. 8, 2015
9:15 a.m. ET


NYC Mayor Declines to Apologize to Police

‘I Just Don’t Want To Do That,’ Bill de Blasio Says

By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL AND MARK MORALES

SETH WENIG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a New York Police Department swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday declined to offer an apology for his remarks or actions at the center of continuing tension with some members of the police force, rebuffing union leaders and others who say it would help mend the rift.

“I respect the question, but the construct is about the past,” Mr. de Blasio said when asked whether he would offer an apology. “And I just don’t want to do that. I think this is about moving forward.”

Mr. de Blasio, who has been accused by some police union officials and civic leaders of fostering an antipolice climate, said he respects New York Police Department members and his administration has directed substantial resources toward helping them do their work safely.

Also on Wednesday, union leaders met with Police Commissioner William Bratton for more than two hours with no signs of a breakthrough in the rift.

PETER FOLEY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, center, applauds as Officer Aliro Pellerano is released from St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx on Wednesday. 

“We don’t believe there’s a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the main police union.

In an interview on NPR this week, Mr. Lynch said he believed an apology would “go a long way to say we can now start the dialogue on how to correct the problem and do our jobs better, rather than constantly putting gasoline on the fire.”

Mr. Lynch accused the mayor of having blood on his hands after NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in an ambush in Brooklyn five days before Christmas.

Mr. Lynch and other union officials have said they believe the mayor has helped create an antipolice environment, pointing to his alliance with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a frequent police critic, and some of Mr. de Blasio’s remarks.

Last month, after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, a black man on Staten Island, the mayor said he and his wife have instructed their son, who is biracial, to take special precautions in any potential police encounter. Some said that comment unfairly suggested the police should be feared.

Write to Michael Howard Saul at michael.saul@wsj.com