Bratton’s second chance

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced William Bratton as the next NYPD Commissioner and expressed full confidence in his ability to rebuild police-community relations after years of tension over the massive abuse of stop and frisk.

We hope this will be the outcome. But a great deal of outreach is imperative, especially considering Bratton’s past relationship with Latino and other communities in New York.

The city’s incoming top cop is credited with accountability and crime data mapping in the NYPD. For years, he served as the commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department, which had a history of ugly conflict with African Americans and Latinos. There, he worked to restore the credibility of cops. De Blasio called Bratton a “leading national voice of community policing.”

Yet, during Bratton’s prior tenure as commissioner in the 1990’s, a wave of police brutality cases left several Latino youths dead, and ultimately, most of the shooters unpunished. With a combative Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the helm of the city, Bratton’s response to a community facing a wall around police violence was to say “You’re making fools of yourselves.”

Clearly, the Mayor sets the tone for policing —and possibly a new era. Bratton has an opportunity to show that his alienating approach has changed. To this end, we strongly encourage the following:

–Bratton must meet with community leaders and organizations, including the Justice Committee and Latino Justice PRLDEF, to not only listen to concerns but also develop partnerships that strengthen public safety without sacrificing Constitutional rights.

–Several fatal police shootings of civilians—such as of Jayson Tirado in 2008 and Noel Polanco in 2012— have left many questions and the perception that cops are not held accountable. The new commissioner should review these cases and report his findings.

–The “broken windows” approach has long shaped policing in this city. Under this theory championed by the conservative Manhattan Institute and Giuliani, the pre-emption and curtailing of minor crimes prevents bigger ones. But this policy has many fault lines and should not be viewed as the Bible on policing. Bratton should convene all stakeholders around integrated and modern strategies towards crime prevention and reduction.

–Through years of advocacy and pressure, the NYPD under Ray Kelly significantly increased its Latino representation. Bratton should build on these efforts and expand the pipeline for Hispanics in discretionary promotions and specialized units.