Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bratton at Citizens Crime Commission


I spent Friday morning at a Citizens Crime Commission breakfast, part of the organization's consistently interesting lecture series.  Last week's featured guest was police commissioner Bill Bratton.

Bratton didn't break any big news -- he is, after all, only a few months into the job and is still assembling his team.  Still, he did offer a window into his thinking about how he will approach public safety as a key member of the de Blasio administration.

If it were possible to do a word search of the speech while it was in progress, I would guess that the two words that appeared most often were variants of "partnership" and "collaboration."  Among other things, Bratton went out of his way to introduce his new deputy commissioner of collaborative policing, Susan Herman, who has been charged with reviewing how the NYPD interacts with victims from top to bottom.

Bratton touched quickly on a number of controversial topics including stop-question-and-frisk and Operation Impact.  And he re-affirmed his belief in the broken windows theory and confirmed that he is talking to George Kelling about consulting with the NYPD.

Undergirding Bratton's remarks were Sir Robert Peel's nine principles of policing, a set of guidelines that the former prime minister and home secretary of England articulated in the 19th century.   Bratton proclaimed that the principles were as relevant today as they were when they were first introduced.  Two principles in particular seemed to animate Bratton's vision of policing:
  • "The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder."
  • "The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it."
In general, the breakfast offered a reminder of why the national survey of criminal justice leaders that we published last year identified Bratton as the most innovative figure in the field.