October 10, 2017
With Bill Bratton
On October 10, 2017, as part of its Policy Breakfast Series, the French-American Foundation hosted William J. Bratton, Executive Chairman and Senior Managing Director at Teneo Risk and Former Commissioner of the New York City and Boston Police Departments and Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. In his remarks, he described the transformation of New York City (NYC) from one of the most dangerous cities in in the U.S., in the early 90s, to one of the safest in 2017. He opened the discussion with the statement:
“As a leader, I see crisis as a challenge and an opportunity.”
For Bill Bratton, “the cause of crime is criminals. People who got caught up in a bad moment—problem at home, alcohol—and police exist to effectively control behavior.” Staying close to the topic “Street Crime to Global Terrorism: Policing in the 21st Century” the Commissioner illustrated how he reduced crime and disorder in the City with an analogy to medical care, in particular the detection of cancer and the steps taken to treat the disease. His highly-successful plan included the following steps, prevention, partnership and problem solving. He believes in “community policing, the idea of a partnership in which police and community work together.”
In the 21st Century, the challenges facing the NYPD are very different from those in the 90’s, when he accepted his first job in NYC as Chief of the Transit Police. “Prior to 2000 who had thought of cybercrime?” he asked. The Commissioner thinks that “we are living in interesting times” and added that “in 2007 our world changed, but we were all focused on the 2008 economic crisis and did not notice.” In 2004, the New York Police Department (NYPD) had to create a department for cybercrime. Today, with the crime issues of the 90’s under control, the NYPD is equally focused on terrorism threats, cybercrime and the opioid crisis.
Looking into the future he believes homelessness will increase and that the opioid epidemic will claim many more lives. “We don’t have this problem under control yet.’’ he stated, and he predicted a 10% increase in the number of deaths in 2018. However, he ended the breakfast discussion on a more positive note. “Four mayors and seven police commissioners later, New York is the safest city in the nation behind San Diego. And, if you have ever visited San Diego, you know that it looks nothing like New York!” he concluded with a smile.