NEW YORK — Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said Sunday that police in New York and across the nation have legitimate grievances but said a silent protest by officers who turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke at the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty was inappropriate.
Bratton said he did not support the silent action of scores of officers who turned away from a screen showing the mayor speaking inside a church in Queens.
Tens of thousands gathered Saturday to mourn Officer Rafael Ramos, who was shot and killed along with his partner, Wenjian Liu, on Dec. 20.
“I think it was very inappropriate,” said Bratton, speaking on the CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “To bring politics or to bring issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate and I do not support it.
“He is the mayor of New York,’’ Bratton said. “He is there representing the citizens of New York to express their remorse and their regret at that death.
“At the same time, it is reflective unfortunately of the feelings of some of our officers at this juncture,” Bratton added.
De Blasio stayed out of sight Sunday, held no public events, and made no comment on the silent police protest.
Despite the often raw emotions expressed privately at police funerals, several officials said the public protest by officers Saturday at what is a highly ordered and solemn occasion appeared to have little recent precedent.
It followed days of heated rhetoric from union officials, including the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, who laid blame for the officers’ deaths squarely on de Blasio, saying he had “blood on the hands.”
A week before, Lynch and the president of the sergeants’ union, Edward D. Mullins, turned away from de Blasio as he walked past them at the hospital where the two officers’ bodies had been brought. But on Sunday, union officials were quick to distance themselves from the display, which they described as spontaneous.
“I didn’t even know it happened until somebody told me; I was surprised to hear it,” said one union official, who requested anonymity citing a promise not to speak about the growing rift with the mayor until after both officers had been buried.
“They’re free to do what they want to do,” the union official said. “We’re not going to judge it one way or the other. But it’s not something we organized.”
A funeral for Liu is still being arranged, and it was unclear whether officers planned to repeat the protest at his service.
Even before the officers’ deaths, Lynch proposed that officers bar the mayor from their funerals, should they be killed in the line of duty, as a response to what he said was a lack of support for the Police Department from City Hall. That effort also brought criticism from Bratton, who said that officer funerals should not be politicized.
As de Blasio stayed out of the public eye Sunday, Bratton also spoke on another national morning talk show, speaking in defense of the mayor.
“The issues go far beyond race relations in this city,” Bratton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to the large-scale protests about black men killed by the police. “They involve labor contracts. They involve a lot of history in this city that’s really different from some of what’s going on in the country as a whole.”
Bratton said that he would be sitting down with union leaders “to deal with their issues” but did not hold out hope that frayed relations between many rank-and-file officers and the mayor, who has criticized the practices of the police force, would be quickly repaired.
“It is probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer,” he said.
In the NBC interview, Bratton said the ‘‘pent-up frustrations’’ that have caused people to take to the streets in recent weeks go far beyond the issue of police tactics 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.”
After the officers’ deaths, the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, killed himself. Police said he was troubled and had shot and wounded a former girlfriend in Baltimore earlier that day.