Last week New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced that he was selecting William Bratton, who led the Los Angeles Police Department from 2002 to 2009, to serve as New York Police Commissioner. Bratton previously served as New York’s police commissioner in the early 1990s under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As a result, some de Blasio supporters have reacted with surprise. During his campaign, de Blasio had promised to end the police practice of “stopping and frisking” large numbers of minority youths. Yet most New Yorkers know Bratton as former mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s top cop, the police commissioner who swept away New York City’s squeegee men, cracked down on public disorder, and pressed cops to make more arrests.
There’s no denying Bratton’s experience or his record of innovation. (Former Governing publisher Peter Harkness has described Compstat, the computerized crime tracking system that Bratton introduced in New York and used to force responsibility and accountability down to the precinct captain rank, as the most significant public sector innovation of our time. Cities such as Baltimore and Louisville and states like Washington have since made it a centerpiece of their management systems.) Nonetheless, the Bratton announcement surprised caught many New Yorkers.