Can Bratton Change the Direction of the NYPD?

December 6, 2013

Yesterday, incoming New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his selection of William Bratton as his choice for NYPD Commissioner. Bratton will take the helm of the nation’s largest police force for a second time, after also serving as the top cop in Los Angeles and Boston. De Blasio praised Bratton, saying, “He knows what it takes to keep a city safe and make communities full partners in the mission.”

Bratton assumes the role as the NYPD has come under scrutiny for its controversial stop-and-frisk policy and the widespread surveillance of Muslim communities in and around New York City. Under the outgoing commissioner, Raymond Kelly, the police force has come under fire for its aggressive tactics that targeted minority groups and infringed on the civil liberties of innocent people. 

De Blasio campaigned partly on his opposition to the stop-and-frisk policy and surveillance, and Bratton will hopefully serve as a partner in reforming the NYPD. Bratton oversaw a drastic reduction in crime in both New York and Los Angeles. His “community policing” model enjoyed great success in L.A., where he made an effort to engage communities in combating gang violence and preventing terrorism. Bratton’s overhaul of the police department in L.A. led to the end of the federal consent decree for the LAPD, where the Department of Justice audited the force to ensure it was not violating federal law- an arrangement that occurred due to the many police abuse scandals that had occurred in the past by several officers.

At the same time, Bratton will have to address the controversial stop-and-frisk program, which has been criticized for racial profiling. In addition, under his tenure, the LAPD considered a “mapping” program of Muslim communities. Bratton sought input from communities, and as a result, that program was sacked. The LAPD continues to pursue a policy of consulting groups on programs such as the Suspicious Activity Reporting. Bratton’s success in community engagement in L.A. should be encouraging to the New York Muslim community. Hopefully, Bratton will be successful in engaging the Muslim community and incorporate greater transparency and accountability within the NYPD.

Bratton has stated in the past that community engagement will be a priority on his agenda, and the New York Muslim community should keep Bratton to that promise by engaging him. Bratton should be given a chance to demonstrate his stance on the department’s problematic programs, as he has shown a willingness to engage while continuing to reduce crime. We call upon Commissioner-elect Bratton to bring the leaders of the NYPD and the community together to overhaul the stop-and-frisk policy and eliminate the surveillance of Muslim communities in New York. Not only is the reputation of the nation’s largest police department at stake, but so too are the civil and privacy rights of millions of New Yorkers.

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