De Blasio Names Bratton to Top Police Post
William Bratton, whose tenure as New York City police commissioner in the 1990s was marked by a steep decline in crime and clashes with then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has been chosen to lead the nation's largest police force again.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment Thursday, saying Bratton is a "proven crime-fighter" who knows how to keep the city safe. But he also said Bratton would bring the police and community back together.
De Blasio made his announcement at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, a problem solving court in an old schoolhouse by the Brooklyn waterfront that has managed to curb recidivism and taxpayer costs while gaining respect from local residents, a recent study concluded (NYLJ, Nov. 18).
Bratton is being named to lead the NYPD as it tries to maintain a historic drop in crime and an extensive counterterrorism program, even as its tactics have come under increased scrutiny.
Bratton, who has also led the Boston and Los Angeles police departments, will succeed Raymond Kelly, the NYPD's longest-serving commissioner. He is arguably the most important administration appointment for de Blasio, a Democrat who takes office Jan. 1.
"Together, we are going to preserve and deepen the historic gains we've made in public safety—gains Bill Bratton helped make possible," de Blasio said in a statement. "We will do it by rejecting the false choice between keeping New Yorkers safe and protecting their civil rights. This is an administration that will do both."
Bratton said his first duty will be "to bring police and community together. …It must be done fairly, compassionately and consistently."
Bratton, known for his outsized personality and fondness for the limelight, was police commissioner under Giuliani, a Republican, from 1994 to 1996. He emphasized the broken-windows theory of police work: that criminals who commit small crimes, such as vandalism, also commit more serious crimes.
Bratton helped spearhead the use of CompStat, a data-driven system of tracking crimes that allows police to better allocate their resources to high-crime areas. The real-time system is still used today.
Crime immediately plummeted under Bratton, who benefited from an influx of new police officers.