NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has chosen former NYPD commissioner William Bratton to lead the department again.
De Blasio announced the appointment Thursday, saying Bratton is a “proven crime fighter” who knows how to keep the city safe.
“I am choosing the best police leaders in the United States of America,” de Blasio said. “He’s focused on preventative strategies, proactive strategies, innovation, the use of the latest technology, but also good old-fashioned understanding that communication at the grassroots — the cop on the beat talking to the neighborhood resident — is fundamental to protecting our city.”
Bratton is arguably the most important administration appointment for the incoming mayor. Bratton will succeed Ray Kelly, the NYPD’s longest-serving police commissioner.
“You’ve heard me quote Commissioner Bratton over the last year or two, and as I came to know him, I knew that we were kindred,” de Blasio told reporters during Thursday’s announcement. “I knew it in my soul that we were kindred, that we shared the goals, the same beliefs and that we’d work well together.”
Watch De Blasio’s Full Announcement Below:
Bratton is being named as the NYPD tries to maintain a historic drop in crime and an extensive counterterrorism program, even as its tactics have come under increased scrutiny.
“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 ran the NYPD from 1994 to 1996, when he worked for Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Their tactics are largely credited with beginning a sharp decrease in the city’s crime rate.
Bratton’s previous stint as the city’s top cop, however, came to an abrupt end when media focus on him began to overshadow his ambitious boss.
“This is the best police force in the nation, and we are going to ensure our men and women have the best technology, the most innovative tactics and the strong support of the communities they protect,” said Bratton. “This department will not rest on its laurels. We are going to continue making history as the safest big city in America.”
Bratton advocated a “broken window” theory of reducing crime, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported. He went after minor, petty crimes such as fare jumping in order to help reduce bigger crimes.
He also implemented the then-revolutionary CompStat method of tracking crime.
“What he did by bringing CompStat to the city we are benefiting to this hour, to this day by that innovation,” de Blasio said.
Bratton has also led the Boston and Los Angeles police departments. He has worked for several private security firms since 2009.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said de Blasio made “a smart choice for New York.”
“As the former Police Commissioner of Boston, Los Angeles and New York, Bill Bratton took on and successfully reined in historically high crime in some of the nation’s largest cities,” Cuomo said. “I commend Mayor-elect de Blasio on his pick and congratulate Bill Bratton on his appointment.”
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch agreed Bratton was “a solid choice.”
“Commissioner Bratton has an international reputation as a problem solver and innovator,” Lynch said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Commissioner Bratton to improve the morale of our officers and to support the shield we wear.”
De Blasio, who also interviewed NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks and First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro before selecting Bratton, has stressed he will continue the city’s record public safety gains while improving police-community relations, which he said he believes have been strained by stop-and-frisk.
Bratton has said he supports the proper use of the tactic. Police stops surged 49 percent during his time in Los Angeles, according to a study by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
A federal judge ruled over the summer that the NYPD sometimes carried out its stops unconstitutionally by unfairly targeting minorities. Her ruling is on hold pending an appeal by the city.
The appeal won’t be heard until after de Blasio takes office, and he has said he plans to drop it. He made reforming, but not eliminating, stop-and-frisk one of the centerpieces of his mayoral campaign.
Civil Rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton acknowledged he has been both an ally and adversary to Bratton during his previous tenure, but hopes the two can work together “to continue the decrease of violence and crime in our community.”
During his first tour, Bratton faced off against massive police corruption. In 1994, he faced a Harlem precinct that was filled with cops who were being arrested and disciplined for selling drugs, protecting drug dealers and brutalizing citizens.
“The very reason I am looking to go back is that this is not deja vu all over again. This department has clearly shown it knows how to deal with crime and disorder,” Bratton said, “But for me, the opportunity that the mayor’s providing is to work with him on a shared vision. the idea that there’s no public entity that can do as much on issues of race and class.”
Kelly, who served as commissioner for two years under former Mayor David Dinkins and then 12 years under outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been praised as one of the most effective commissioners in the NYPD’s history.
“I congratulate Bill Bratton on his appointment and welcome him back to One Police Plaza,” Kelly said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to working with Bill to ensure a smooth transition. Today, our city is safer than ever before with historic decreases in crime, including record-low shootings and murders, and I am confident that record of safety will continue.”
In 2012, there were 414 murders in the city, a record low, and this year is on pace to be lower still.
Besides overseeing the historic reduction in crime, Kelly dramatically bolstered the NYPD’s counterterrorism and surveillance capabilities after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bratton, who had publicly campaigned for the top NYPD job, hasn’t commented on the surveillance program.
On Tuesday, de Blasio appointed Anthony Shorris as his first deputy mayor.
Shorris is a former executive director at the Port Authority and will run the city’s day-to-day operations. He now works at the NYU Langone Medical Center and also served as deputy education chancellor and former Mayor Ed Koch’s finance commissioner.
“Tony is a leader of great character, great integrity and great accomplishment,” de Blasio said. “I am absolutely confident in his ability to deliver on the core agenda.”
Also Tuesday, de Blasio appointed Dominic Williams to serve as chief of staff to Shorris, playing a central role in the day-to-day coordination of agency and City Hall operations.
De Blasio also named Emma Wolfe as director of intergovernmental affairs. Wolfe will be charged with working with officials from the City Council to Congress to implement progressive policies that require legislative and executive support.
De Blasio will take office Jan. 1.
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