Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was officially sworn into office today and made clear in his opening remarks that there’s a new top cop in town.
Notably, while former Commissioner Ray Kelly was relentlessly criticized–including by Mr. Bratton’s new boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio–for alienating communities of color, Mr. Bratton vowed to fix the problem and reestablish trust in the NYPD.
“I love this profession of policing. But I’m not blinded by that love,” said Mr. Bratton, who previously worked under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Although crime is down to record lows, he argued, “We have not really received the collaboration that all that success should have brought.”
“Mr. Mayor, that is my commitment to you, that is my commitment to the residents, citizens and visors to this great city: …. That we will all work hard to identify why is it that so many in this city do not feel good about this department that has done so much to make us safe, what has it been about our activities that has made so many alienated,” he declared. “The challenge for all of us to find that disconnection … and that’s why I came back.”
Speaking to reporters after giving his remarks, Mr. Bratton further said he had a fundamental disagreement with Mr. Kelly with how the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic should be used.
“Crime is down to such extraordinarily low levels in the city versus what it was, that there’s an expectation or there should be an expectation that the intrusion of police into citizens’ lives should also diminish. But we had the reverse happening. And this is where Commissioner Kelly and I–and I have the greatest respect for the commissioner–but we have a divergence of opinion about this issue. I am quite comfortable that we can have less and achieve the same results,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio also offered rare kind words for Mr. Kelly, whom he repeatedly skewered during last year’s election.
“We have so much to thank commissioner Kelly for,” said new mayor, calling the NYPD an “extraordinary organization” and telling the police officers listening that he has “got your back.”
For his part, Mr. Bratton seemed thrilled to be back at the helm of the police department, which he said was a lot like returning home after decades away. “It’s like being away from a home that you’re intimate for 20 years, and then coming back and the place is totally remodeled,” he reflected.
“Commissioner Bratton,” said Mr. de Blasio, “welcome home.”