Poll shows mayor has long way to go to improve police-community relations after Garner death



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NEW YORK — More than half of New Yorkers are unhappy with Mayor Bill de Blasio's handling of relations between police and the community in the wake of protests surrounding the Eric Garner grand jury decision, according to a poll released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University survey found that 56 percent of New Yorkers disapprove of how de Blasio has managed the ties between the NYPD and the city, which is a central promise of his first year in office.

A wave of protests — largely peaceful, though they have repeatedly snarled traffic — swept through the city after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Garner, who is black.

"Police-community relations is the issue that defined Mayor Bill de Blasio's election bid, and seems to bedevil his first year in office," said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.

Black voters gave de Blasio higher marks for his handling of the Garner fallout, continuing a trend that has marked his time in office. Seventy percent of black voters polled said they approve of de Blasio's overall job performance, as opposed to 47 percent of Hispanic voters and 34 percent of white voters (56 percent of white voters rated de Blasio negatively).

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a fierce police critic and close de Blasio ally, had a favorability rating of just 35 percent.

Overall, 47 percent of New Yorkers approve of de Blasio's work as mayor while 38 percent do not. His job approval was 49 percent last month and 53 percent in January a few weeks after he took office.

Additionally, one of de Blasio's other campaign promises has become increasingly unpopular, according to the poll.

Two-thirds of New Yorkers believe that de Blasio should not ban horse carriages, the highest level of support for the horses since Quinnipiac began asking the question in January. A City Council bill legislating the ban is to be introduced next year.

The poll of 1,374 New York City voters was conducted Dec. 10-16 by telephone. It has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

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