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Who Is William Bratton? A Closer Look At The Life And Career Of Next NYC Police Commissioner

Boston Native Returns To NYPD
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Former LAPD and NYPD Police Chief William Bratton. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Former LAPD police chief and NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – William Bratton is back in his old job.

Bratton, whose tenure as commissioner of the NYPD in the 1990s was marked by a steep decline in crime and clashes with then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has been chosen by mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to lead the nation’s largest police department again.

Bratton, who has also led the Boston and Los Angeles police departments, will succeed Ray Kelly, the NYPD’s longest-serving commissioner.

Bratton is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. He began his police career in 1970 as an officer with the Boston Police Department.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston State College and is a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute and the Senior Executive Fellows Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bratton, known for his outsized personality and fondness for the limelight, was police commissioner under Giuliani 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.

The year before Bratton took office, there were 1,946 murders citywide; by contrast, in 1996 there were 983, the first time it had dipped under 1,000 since 1968.

But Bratton frequently fought with Giuliani over who deserved the lion’s share of the credit. He resigned after two years.

Bratton, who had led the Boston Police Department and the formerly independent New York City Transit Police before running the NYPD, was tapped to head another big-city police force in 2002. He spent seven years atop the Los Angeles Police Department and is credited with cleaning up the scandal-plagued department’s image.

Crime dropped every year he was in office and polls showed relations with the community improved.

He has been working at private security firms since 2009 and is also Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, whose members provide advice and recommendations on a variety of homeland security issues to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Bratton revealed that he was inspired to become a cop at the age of 9 in Boston when he took out a library book called “Your Police,” which is about policing in New York City.

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