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New Yorkers overwhelmingly disapprove of police turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio contemplates something.
Mayor Bill de Blasio contemplates something.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

About 69 percent of New York City voters disapprove of police officers turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio during the funerals for two police officers who were shot and killed in December, a Quinnipiac University poll of nearly 1,200 New Yorkers found.

Roughly 77 percent said police union leader Patrick Lynch's comments that de Blasio's administration is partly to blame for the shooting deaths are "too extreme." And 52 percent agreed police discipline has broken down.

After grand juries decided not to indict police officers for killing black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and black 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York City, de Blasio acknowledged he previously taught his biracial son to be particularly careful around police. "It's different for a white child," de Blasio told ABC News' This Week. "That's just the reality in this country."

Police union officials suggested de Blasio's comments incited anti-police fervor, leading to the shooting death of two cops in December. New York City cops protested against de Blasio by turning their backs against the mayor during the funerals for the slain police officers.

For two weeks, New York City police also reduced arrests in a work "slowdown." Police said they were minimizing their activity out of fear for their lives, but the move was generally regarded as a protest.

"In 1967 in Detroit, there was a massive 'blue flu,' they called it, in which police protested by basically not showing up and not doing the job," Temple University historian Heather Ann Thompson said in December. "That method of protesting is saying, 'Screw you. We're not going to do our jobs. We're not going to arrest people. We're not going to police. Let's see what happens now.'"

About 57 percent of New Yorker voters told Quinnipiac that police officers should be disciplined if they deliberately make fewer arrests or write fewer tickets.

There was one bright spot for police in the Quinnipiac poll: New York voters said, 56 to 37 percent, that they approve of the job police citywide are doing. But there was a racial divide in the responses, with 54 percent of black voters saying they disapprove.

Further reading: New York City police officers are protesting by refusing to work. It's not the first time.