Police commissioner Bratton discusses vision for NYPD at Brooklyn event
Brooklyn hosted New York Police Commissioner William Bratton at a breakfast event Thursday morning as a part of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s “Brooklyn Newsmakers” series.
Close to 400 people registered for the early morning program, which was the fifth edition in the series.
“The buzz is hot about Brooklyn. But the buzz is hotter about how safe Brooklyn is,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura as he thanked the commissioner and the NYPD for the low crime numbers Brooklyn posted in 2014.
“I know they say New York is the safest city in the world, but we like to say it starts in Brooklyn.”
Bratton pointed out the decline in most types of crimes in both Brooklyn North and Brooklyn South — the two police patrol districts covering the borough.
“Last year, major crime dropped 3.7 percent in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South and 4.3 percent in Brooklyn North,” the commissioner said.
In Brooklyn South, however, felony assaults slightly increased from the previous year.
“These aren’t just numbers,” Bratton noted. “These are lives.”
Bratton recounted Brooklyn and New York City in the 1990s when “safety wasn’t taken for granted.” He politely joked about his own encounter with a New York “broken window.”
(Bratton’s car radio was once stolen, and the burglars literally broke his car’s window.)
The NYPD Broken Windows policy of addressing quality-of-life crimes such as graffiti and loud music has staunch support from Bratton, who credits it as a primary factor in reducing crime. Bratton called the Broken Windows policy an “essential tool and one that is not likely to be abandoned during his tenure. Bratton introduced the policy to New York in 1994 when he was commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The policy has been criticized as taking police resources away from more serious criminal offenses and creating tension between the department and communities of color that feel over policed.
“The challenge is to ensure that we use it in the appropriate place and at the appropriate time,” the commissioner said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined the discussion, asking whether the NYPD will be creating any new shifts, either to policy or tools.
“Training and technology,” Bratton noted, are the priority of the department under his direction. Equipping every officer with a smartphone, incorporating body cameras and expanding the number of Tasers in an effort to reduce the officer firearm use is high on the list for a police department still working to provide each officer with an email address.
“This month, finally everyone in the department will have an email address, and by [the end of] 2015, each will have a smartphone,” Bratton said.
The commissioner answered a few sample questions from the audience, but notably absent was any mention of the chokehold report released this week by the NYPD inspector general. The report found that the NYPD routinely failed to discipline officers for using illegal chokeholds as a takedown measure.
To gain back the community’s trust and “change the training experience of officers,” Bratton called on the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce members to be “community partners” through introducing business owners to the officers patrolling the neighborhood.
The goal is to “do the job by doing no harm or little harm,” Bratton concluded. “Our first obligation is public safety.”
Thursday’s event — Bratton’s first major address to the Brooklyn business community — was held at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering at MetroTech.
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