Political and civic leaders in Queens this week expressed their support for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s appointment of Bill Bratton for the next commissioner of the New York Police Department.
Bratton first served as NYPD commissioner from 1994 to 1996. He has also served as the Boston Police Department commissioner, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department commissioner.
“Bill Bratton has proved that you can fight crime effectively and bring police and community together,” de Blasio said when he made the announcement last week at the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement that he applauded the selection of Bratton.
“He is a consummate law enforcement professional with whom we worked closely – and successfully – in the past and will, I am sure, in the future,” he said.
Brown described Bratton as a tough crime fighter with the ability to bring law enforcement and communities together as partners.
“I very much look forward to once again working with Bill in helping to keep New York as the safest big city in America,” the Queens DA said.
Bratton has been credited with helping to reduce the high crime rates that once plagued New York City, but he has also been criticized for his support of controversial policing tactics, including stop-and-frisk, the legality of which has been questioned.
“Bill Bratton knows that when it comes to stop and frisk, it has to be used with respect,” de Blasio said. “It has to be used properly. One of the things that inspired me was a quote from Bill. He said, ‘Stop-and-frisk is like chemotherapy. Used in the right dose, it can save lives. But used in the wrong dose, too heavy a dose, it can create its own dangers and problems.’”
Earlier this year a federal judge ruled stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional, although the city is working to appeal that ruling.
According to a report released last month by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, only 3 percent of stops result in a conviction.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), a proponent of stop-and-frisk, who said the tactic should not be abused, was in favor of Bratton’s appointment.
He said public safety is one of the most important issues to him and his constituents.
“Picking a police commissioner that will work with our precinct is very important to me personally and for my people,” he said.
He said Bratton’s track record – including his implementation of CompStat and the reduction in crime that occurred under his watch – is a sign that his leadership is a step in the right direction for the city.
“The new mayor and the commissioner are inheriting a very safe city,” he said. “Under their watch, I’m sure it is their intent to keep it safe.”
At the announcement, Bratton listed three goals he hopes to achieve in his new role: to maintain a low crime rate, ensure the city remains safe from terrorism and to bring the NYPD and city residents together “in a collaboration where there is mutual respect and mutual trust.”
Bratton was also partially responsible for the implementation of the “broken windows” theory by the police department in the 1990s. The theory holds that if police crack down on minor offenses, like vandalism and graffiti, that will help curb more serious crimes.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) also applauded the decision.
“Ray Kelly is leaving some big shoes to fill but I can’t think of anyone better qualified than Bill Bratton to lead the department in the new administration,” he said. “He has the experience and a proven track record of success in fighting crime in New York and other big cities across the country.”
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) too lauded the appointment.
“William Bratton is a strong choice for New York Police Commissioner,” she said. “I believe he will help build relationships between our city’s diverse communities and the police force, while making all our neighborhoods safer.”
By Bianca Fortis