Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WILL BRATTON REIGN AGAIN?


The Return of Bill Bratton? by Lenny Levitt NYPD Confidential
June 16, 2008

Former police commissioner Bill Bratton returned to New York last Thursday to address the Citizens Crime Commission. Judging from his remarks, it sounds like he wants to stay - and again head the NYPD.
Currently in his sixth year as Los Angeles Police Chief, Bratton called New York "home" and said he'd "be crazy not to" want to run the NYPD again, even though that would mean a near 50 per cent salary cut from his current $300, 000 to the $165,000 the top cop job pays here.

Bratton appears to have been as successful out west in lowering the crime rate as he was in his two years in New York, although he's taken his lumps from L.A's seemingly intractable gang problem. In New York, he did nothing less than revolutionize the NYPD, changing its reactive culture to a proactive one in the fight against crime.

But Bratton is better at running police departments than at choosing successful political candidates - at least here in New York City. In 1997, he considered running for mayor but quickly abandoned that folly. In 2001, he endorsed Democratic front-runner Mark Green. The deal was that Green would reappoint Bratton police commissioner. Unfortunately for Bratton, Green lost the election.

Meanwhile Ray Kelly, who is also pretty good at running police departments, proved a more successful political prognosticator than Bratton. In 2001 he endorsed Michael Bloomberg, engineering his own return as police commissioner, the first top cop in New York to have a second act.

Bratton and Kelly are the two seminal figures of the NYPD over the past generation. And they may soon be tangling again.
Bratton has met with potential mayoral candidates Congressman Anthony Weiner and city Comptroller William Thompson and there is talk he may also put a move on City Council President Christine Quinn.

Would any of them reappoint Bratton police commissioner? The pro is he's already done the job - superbly. But that's also the con. Most new mayors like to pick their own man to make their mark. [In selecting Kelly, Bloomberg, to his credit, is the exception] In addition, Bratton hogged so much of the spotlight that his mayor, Rudy Giuliani, fired him.

The new mayor, whoever that may be, might want someone with a lower profile. Maybe someone in the audience at Bratton's talk like former First Deputy Joe Dunne. Dunne was the logical choice in 2000 to succeed Police Commissioner Howard Safir. Instead, Giuliani passed him over and chose his former bodyguard, Bernie Kerik. We all know how that turned out.
Who knows, maybe there's another scenario. Perhaps a package deal: Bratton as commissioner with Dunne, given an expanded role, as First Deputy.

Meanwhile, Kelly, who is better known and more popular in polls than all three mayoral candidates, may become a candidate himself.
Should he win City Hall, you can forget about Bratton's second act at One Police Plaza. Kelly views him as a rival and has refused to take his calls when he came through town.

Remember the Manhattan Institute's 2006 international terrorism conference to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/ll? The NYPD co-sponsored the conference but when Kelly learned that Bratton, his proteg├ęs John Timoney [now head of the Miami police department] and John Miller [now the spokesman for the FBI] were panelists, he cancelled the NYPD's support.
Instead, Kelly threw together a rival terrorism conference. At the very hour the Manhattan Institute's conference began, Kelly held his own at Police Plaza.

Bye, Bye, Rand. Mercifully, the Police Department may have heard the last from the Rand Corporation. Kelly's latest attempt to deflect responsibility for the 50-shot Sean Bell killing with yet another outside consultant - this one to the tune of $350,000 - has produced recommendations so divorced from reality as to appear ludicrous.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initial reaction of "inexplicable and inexcusable," still resonates. The public still does not understand why police officers unleashed so much fire-power at three unarmed men, killing the would-be groom and wounding his two friends.
Nearly three years later, we still don't know why a Manhattan undercover unit - and not a local one - was sent to a notorious trouble spot in Queens, the Club Kalua, where Bell and his two friends attended a bachelor party on the eve of his wedding.

We still don't know who made the decision to send these officers into an unfamiliar neighborhood, without a tactical plan or working body wires.
The officers were so ill-prepared that when the bullets flew and they called a 10-13 for assistance, they couldn't describe their location.
We still don't know what role Anthony Izzo, the Chief of the Organized Crime Control Bureau, played in assigning these offices and in the overall decision-making process that led to this tragically bungled operation.

Instead, the Rand Corporation's answer to what they were hired to examine - "contagious shootings" - are Tasers. For sergeants, who already have them in their trunks of their cars. Now they'll wear them on their gun belts. This is the answer you get for $350,000?
The only thing more ludicrous was Kelly's initial reaction, saying he "embraced" the findings. By taking him seriously, the media is allowing itself to be diverted from focusing on the department's failings in the Bell case.

Take it the bank, folks, the last thing the NYPD needs are more Tasers for sergeants.
Simple question: if Tasers are the solution, why not give them to cops?
Answer: Kelly distrusts Tasers in the hands of the rank and file. In fact, Kelly distrusts weapons in the hands of the rank and file. Recall 15 years ago the conversion from the .38 to the 9mm. Kelly opposed it. After Giuliani's election, he reversed himself.

As for the Tasers, no one knows their danger better than Kelly.
Back in 1986, Police Commissioner Ben Ward sent him to clean up the notorious "stun gun" scandal in the 106th precinct in Ozone Park, where a sergeant used a Taser on a black teenage marijuana suspect. The incident so infuriated Ward that he fired the entire Queens borough command.

Ward may have overreacted but Kelly goes the other way. He disciplines none of his top command, believing that reprimanding his own appointees makes him look bad.
Meanwhile, lawsuits decrying the Tasers' safety keep on coming. Then, there's the stench from Kelly's predecessor, whom Taser placed on its board in 2002 and who two years later cashed out with $6 million. There's that Bernie Kerik again.

The Brave One. We refer to the police chief who attended Bratton's the Citizens Crime Commission speech. Given Kelly's dislike for Bratton, the chief 's appearance reflects both courage and chutzpah, rare qualities at One Police Plaza.
Although the chief said, "I could care less if my name appears in your column," we'll omit it. We'll let Charlie Campisi and his sleuths at Internal Affairs take out this brave man.
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