Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Glimpse at How Bratton Thinks--In His Words

October 04, 2002

Excerpts from William J. Bratton's 1998 book, "Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic"

*

I admit it, I don't mind seeing my name in the papers. But, more important, I wanted to get my message out that change was here and we were serious.

*

An insider's strengths and weaknesses are known throughout an organization, and often, because of the relationships he has formed over time, he does not have the wherewithal to make drastic changes.

*

Driving around the streets is very different from walking on them. In a patrol car, the only time you talk to people is after a crime has occurred. You're not a fixture in people's lives. You're an authority, not a friend; an occasional presence, not a personality.

*

[From his time as chief of the New York Transit Police] Once I was satisfied they could handle the responsibility, I decentralized power down to the 10 district commanders. I told each of them, "Here are the goals: reduce fare evasion, disorder and crime. I have certain requirements, mostly a certain number of cops on the trains, but beyond that you make the decisions. How many cops do you want in uniform, how many in plain clothes? Your call. You be creative as to how you're going to use those cops. You supervise them, you make sure they're not being abusive and you make them productive." All they had to do was produce and be able to answer our questions when we asked them. I gave them authority and responsibility but held them accountable.

*

In March 1993, Ray Flynn announced that he was giving up the mayoralty to accept the appointment as United States ambassador to the Vatican. Mickey Roache [then the Boston police commissioner] resigned almost immediately as police commissioner and announced he was running for mayor. Commissioners are like that--we all think we can be mayors.

*

The police can't take back the streets that were effectively de-policed for 20 years without being assertive. However, if they are heavy-handed, if they don't get the consensus of the community, if they don't get the leadership and supervision of their own command staff that is so essential, then there is the potential for an explosion like that in Los Angeles.

*

[Describing a conflict with New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani after Giuliani forced out Bratton's top press aide, John Miller]: Rudy Giuliani, in his haste to sweep up every crumb of credit, had disregarded reason, personality and honor.... By clearing out the entire public-information office, the mayor decimated the department's institutional memory.... This is a mayor who consistently talks about how much he loves cops, yet in his desire to get at Miller and me, he crudely damaged the careers and lives of these hardworking police officers and civilians. How is he ever going to look anyone in the eye and say with a straight face that he loves and respects cops when he has treated them so callously?

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|