Former New York Police Department commissioner William Bratton is being appointed to lead it again.
Democratic Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that he has chosen Bratton, who ran the nation's largest police department from 1994 to 1996. Bratton worked then for Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Their tactics are largely credited with beginning a sharp decrease in the city's crime rate.
Bratton also has led the Boston and Los Angeles police departments. He arrived in 2002 at an LAPD plagued by allegations of brutality and a cops' code of silence. Civil rights attorney Connie Rice, once among the department's harshest critics, says Bratton turned it around. She recalls how he dumped two officers from the elite Metro Division — once an unthinkable act.
"Bratton fired two Metropolitan veterans for lying. I mean you talk about unheard of," said Rice, chuckling at the memory. "LAPD was in utter shock. He was told he could not touch Metropolitan officers."
Bratton had help in Los Angeles — a federal consent decree gave him leeway to implement reforms. Critics say he was heavy handed on Skid Row as LAPD issued thousands of jaywalking and other tickets to homeless people unable to pay the fines.
Bratton promoted aggressive policing, but he also preached constitutionally legal policing. The results were a lower crime rate and improved community relations applauded by the Police Commission. Many of Bratton's LAPD reforms were kept in place by his successor, Charlie Beck.
Bratton has worked for several private security firms since 2009. He succeeds Raymond Kelly, the NYPD's longest-serving police commissioner. Kelly oversaw the continued drop in crime and helped shift the NYPD's focus to counterterrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Police harassment is the top issue facing Bratton in New York, where a court ruled the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy is racist. De Blasio has vowed to improve police-community relations. He takes office Jan. 1, following Mayor Michael Bloomberg.