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George L. Kelling Lecture: Renewing the Legacy of Proactive Policing

William Bratton Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; former NYC Police Commissioner
Rafael A. Mangual Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Legal Policy, Manhattan Institute; Contributing Editor, City Journal
Catherine M. Coles Co-author of Fixing Broken Windows
Reihan Salam President, Manhattan Institute
Mon, Oct 5, 2020 EVENTCAST

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George L. Kelling Lecture: Renewing the Legacy of Proactive Policing

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George L. Kelling Lecture: Renewing the Legacy of Proactive Policing

William Bratton Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; former NYC Police Commissioner
Rafael A. Mangual Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Legal Policy, Manhattan Institute; Contributing Editor, City Journal
Catherine M. Coles Co-author of Fixing Broken Windows
Reihan Salam President, Manhattan Institute EVENTCAST 01:00pm—02:30pm
Monday October 5
Monday October 5 2020
PAST EVENT Monday October 5 2020

National and local debates around policing and criminal justice seem to increasingly pit criminal justice reform and public safety against each other. Outrage over controversial uses of force and perceived racism on the part of law enforcement has spurred proposals to defund the police and enact various reforms; but, at the same time, many major cities are seeing elevated rates of murder and shootings, along with troubling deteriorations in public order. This violence hits poor and minority neighborhoods the hardest, as policy overreach and anti-cop sentiment threaten the police’s ability to protect and serve the most vulnerable. This is a precarious moment for all who care about both justice in policing and law and order. It is in this context that we proudly introduce the Manhattan Institute’s new Policing and Public Safety Initiative and present the first annual George L. Kelling Lecture.

It is critical at this moment to reexamine the remarkable gains made over the past decades—in public safety, and police-community relations. Those gains resulted from good policies, based in evidence and developed by innovative thinkers such as the Manhattan Institute’s own George Kelling, and his colleague James Q. Wilson.

Chief among the questions we face today are how new ideas and data can further improve policing without risking lives or the improved quality of life our cities have worked toward over the past 40 years? There is no one better to speak about the implementation of evidence-based ideas in the field than the man who led NYPD, LAPD, and Boston PD from strength to strength. We are delighted to present a fireside chat with Commissioner William Bratton to discuss where we go from here.

*  *  *

FEATURING:
William Bratton, Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; former NYC Police Commissioner 

IN CONVERSATION WITH:
Rafael Mangual, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Legal Policy, Manhattan Institute; Contributing Editor, City Journal 

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY:
Reihan Salam, President, Manhattan Institute 
Catherine M. Coles, Co-author, Fixing Broken Windows and widow of George L. Kelling

Event Transcript

Reihan Salam:

Hello, everyone. I'm thrilled to be with you all today. And to welcome you to the first annual George Kelling Lecture. I would ask our participants on Zoom to stay on after the main event concludes while we transition from the public broadcast. We are honored to be joined by Dr. Catherine Coles, George's widow and long-time partner in both marriage and scholarship, and former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who will be delivering today's lecture.

Reihan Salam:

This also marks the launch of the Manhattan Institute's new Policing and Public Safety Initiative. The Initiative will be led by Hannah Myers, herself a veteran of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau and an expert in counter extremism. We're very excited to have Hannah onboard and the initiative off the ground. These are challenging times for America's cities and its police officers.

Reihan Salam:

For the past 20 years or so, we've been celebrating the incredible crime decline experienced by so many American cities. It's important to remember, however, that this progress did not just happen. It came from the good ideas that people like George Kelling and Catherine Coles, and the tireless work of courageous public servants like Commissioner Bratton. But pride in how far we've come must not slide into complacency. Many of our leaders and fellow citizens have failed to recognize how much work remains undone.

Reihan Salam:

On the average day in 2019, 45 Americans were murdered. Tragically, that number is on pace to rise considerably this year. That is a rate seven times higher than the average among our fellow rich democracies. It is also not a social crisis that is evenly felt. Among young Latino men, murder was the second leading cause of death. Among young Black men, it was the leading cause, and responsible for more deaths than the following nine causes combined. Simply put, we don't need to defund the police, we need to defend effective policing. This does not mean turning a blind eye to misconduct. Police officers are entrusted with the public's protection, and must be held to the highest of standards. But we must also enable them to protect law-abiding citizens in even the most dangerous neighborhoods.

Reihan Salam:

As you will hear today, policing a 21st century American city can be profoundly challenging, but the Manhattan Institute has a proud tradition of providing practical and empirically-grounded answers to the hardest policy questions. It is this tradition that the Policing and Public Safety Initiative will carry forward.

Reihan Salam:

And to kick it all off, I'm honored to introduce Dr. Catherine Coles, Dr. Coles and George Kelling enjoyed 37 years of marriage, during which time they were also co-authors and partners in developing some of the most important ideas in 20th century criminology. George famously developed the idea of broken windows policing with James Q. Wilson. He went on to help put those ideas into practice, beginning with the New York City subway system. He worked alongside then-New York Transit Police Chief Bill Bratton. Kelling continued to spread his work to other departments across the country, and to refine them, including in the book, Fixing Broken Windows, co-written with Dr. Coles.

Reihan Salam:

Ladies and gentlemen, to begin the George Kelling Lecture, please welcome Dr. Catherine Coles.

Catherine Coles:

I'm pleased to join you today to applaud the Manhattan Institute for its new initiative on Policing and Public Safety, and thank you for honoring George with this lecture series. I especially think President Salam, Hannah Myers, and Ralph Manuel for all your efforts on this project. George truly valued the ongoing support and stimulating forum that the Manhattan Institute provided for his work. Of course, I can think of no better colleague or friend of his than Bill Bratton to offer the first lecture.

Catherine Coles:

Lately, I keep thinking about the phrase, "May you live in interesting times." Many friends have asked what George would say about the challenges that our police, our country, and our communities are facing today. And strangely enough, in the last few years of his life, George did voice concerns that we might soon confront increasing turmoil on city streets.

Catherine Coles:

In particular, he worried about whether the productive and trusting partnerships between police and citizens that he had observed and proposed as a basis for crime control, problem solving, quality of life, and public safety would continue to receive the attention they required, or whether policing was moving back toward the professional reactive model that had failed in earlier decades.

Catherine Coles:

George respected police and believed that most positive reforms in policing had in some way originated from within the organizations themselves. His research methods reflected this view. He loved working with chiefs, such as Bill Bratton, Ed Flynn, Charlie Beck, and police at all supervisory levels. But believing that line officers offered a wealth of information about citizens, neighborhoods, and their particular problems. You regularly walked and talked with them, rode bike in auto patrol, listened and observed. When the time came that he could no longer be on the streets to learn, no longer confirm his assumptions and conclusions on the ground, George gave up most writing saying it was time for others to carry on.

Catherine Coles:

In a few words, I would like to suggest two conclusions that carry over from decades of his analysis that we might find applicable to a Policing and Public Safety Initiative today. I'm going to be very brief. This is not a full description at all.

Catherine Coles:

First I would label a theme called how can we get back on track with community policing? George was convinced that a continually evolving form of community policing, which became the predominant paradigm in American policing from the 1990s on was still in effect, but he maintained that it had not fully taken hold. At its core are police partnerships with citizens, with police legitimacy and authority derived from citizen consent. Community policing places a burden on citizens too, who must be willing to participate, to work with police, identifying neighborhood problems, to be informed about police tactics, to back up the police. This is crucial because community policing is, by its nature, an aggressive form of policing. It involves crime prevention and order maintenance activities that bring police into greater contact with citizens on a routine basis. George warned the police could get into real trouble if their mandate from citizens weakened or disappeared.

Catherine Coles:

This leads me to the second theme. George struggled with the crucial issue of managing police discretion as they exercise substantial responsibility and power on the streets, and citizen interactions, and problem solving. He emphasized the need for establishing explicit departmental values that are training at all levels. Developing guidelines, governing the use of discretion, and instituting standards and procedures for holding police accountable for their behavior, for acting lawfully and fairly with regard to all citizens, regardless of race, class, or other distinctions. This, too, is an area where he saw citizen involvement and public scrutiny as essential. Yet, George believed that many police departments had not dealt adequately with managing police discretion and accountability. He encouraged them to do so.

Catherine Coles:

These issues are complex and I've only touched on the surface of them. Many other areas exist in policing and public safety that will benefit from attention through your initiative. I look forward to what will follow. Thank you.

Reihan Salam:

Thank you, Catherine. We're very glad you could join us today. Now for this afternoon's lecture, Commissioner Bill Bratton is someone who needs very little introduction. He is the man who, more than anyone else, made New York City the place we know and treasure today. His storied career began in Boston's police department, where he rose from patrolman to the department's number two in a decade. But more than just rising through the ranks, his ambition was to change the work of policing. He got his chance when he became chief of New York City's transit police in 1990. Before long, the safest place in New York was underground. After a stint back in Boston, as the police commissioner of his hometown, he was in New York City's top job. The rest, as they say is history. City Halls across the country were calling to ask how they could develop their own version of Comstat. His policies and strategies help residents of cities and every corner of the country, but more than anywhere else, they helped New Yorkers.

Reihan Salam:

By the time commissioner Bratton ended his second stint as New York's police commissioner in 2016, the city's murder rate was 70% lower than it had been when he took the reins in 1994. Right now politicians and activists across the country are telling us it's time to revolutionize policing. Something tells me that is much easier said than done, but we'd all do well to hear from someone who has actually done it, someone who knows what is needed to keep people safe, someone who knows how to make diverse communities feel like partners in keeping their neighborhoods safe. I'm grateful for all Commissioner Bill Bratton has done for New York and for the business of policing. And I'm grateful he's able to be with us today. A quick programming note, the commissioner is going to deliver remarks now and then be joined by my colleague Manhattan Institute senior fellow and deputy director of legal policy, Rafael Manguel for a discussion. Commissioner, welcome.

William Bratton:

Thank you, President Salam. It is a distinct pleasure to be participating in today's program. I want to extend, certainly my best wishes to Catherine, and thank her for her eloquent remarks. It's a pleasure, as I've indicated, to be with all of you today to talk about my dear friend George Kelling. The title of my remarks is Going to Ground: Remembering George Kelling. There are many ways to describe George, both professionally and personally. Professionally, he was an academic, historian, a writer, an author, a professor, a speaker, certainly a reformer, a visionary, a change agent, a glazier, fixing broken windows. He began his career as a sociologist, became a theorist. His wife, Catherine described him as an anthropologist in his later years, he loved to study people. Certainly, he was a practitioner, something he was extraordinarily proud of. Personally, he was a friend, a mentor, an advisor, a colleague, a partner, a confidant, a collaborator, and at times, a cranky curmudgeon. Many's the time George would exhibit that side of his personality. Catherine said he would describe himself first and foremost as a researcher. Probably one of the most influential, profound, prolific, well-known, and controversial in his fields of endeavor for over 50 years. And whose body of work will live on and shape future generations of police for years to come.

William Bratton:

My own favorite, and I think the most appropriate description of George, is the Godfather. The godfather of community-based problem-solving policing. Maybe because his work was so influential and important for my own career, and for so many of my peers and contemporaries, whose careers paralleled his for so many years across two centuries, the 20th and into the 21st. He was the researcher and I was the practitioner who embraced the same ideas, and ideals, and vision. As we worked together, it became quite clear that he was more than a researcher. He too was a practitioner.

William Bratton:

However, George spent so much time in the field, where he always preferred to be, that he was, in reality, a practitioner extraordinaire. He walked the walk, he talked the talk before he wrote about it. He knew what he was writing about. I feel that while he had many peers, and no shortage of critics, particularly in his later years, he and his ideas and those of his many supporters, who have such significance and ultimately added so much to the advancement of the police profession and criminal justice system, that he deserves that title of Godfather.

William Bratton:

Mentored by Herman Goldstein, Egon Bittner, Frank Remington, and so many others, and comfortable being mentored and stimulated by relationships with colleagues like James Wilson, Bob Wasserman, Mark Waugh, Frank Hodd, and Susan Herman, and so many others, and so many chiefs of police and cops and union leaders, and certainly his wife, Catherine Coles. His impact on the ground, in the streets, in police stations, neighborhoods, and subways, and also in the classrooms where he lectured, not only in America, but around the world, is profound and singular.

William Bratton:

It is on the ground, going to ground, as he would describe it, that he excelled, and where he was the happiest and most impactful. I can remember when he and I were working together in Venezuela for the mayor, Mayor Peña of Caracas at that time in the late '90s, one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We were making great impact. We had a Jack Mabel-type of police chief who was imprisoned later by Mr. Chavez, President Chávez. In a short period of time working with George, six months, we reduced the murder rate in that capital by 25%.

William Bratton:

I can still remember going to an event in a public square at the bottom of the Hills where the favelas were located, the slums. We rode into that event on motor scooters, on the backs of motor scooters. George was so happy that day that he was like a kid in the candy store. We were announcing a new initiative to take the police for the first time up into those favelas to do something about that murder rate, with a honest police chief, Iván Simonovis, and an honest mayor, we did make inroads until an dishonest and corrupt president disrupted our work. We left Venezuela disappointed, but satisfied that what we had learned in America could, in fact, be transported elsewhere in the world.

William Bratton:

His laboratory was not in a room in an ivory tower with other academics and researches. It was always in the field with the practitioners, with the cops, the men and women of law enforcement, who every day were in the arena, as Theodore Roosevelt might describe it, to see for himself the broken windows, quality of life, crime, and shattered lives, to witness the fear they had to deal with, and learn from them and with them how to repair it as he and Catherine so eloquently did in their seminal book, Fixing Broken Windows ... Excuse me, holding it up the wrong way, an extraordinary work of art. There, we go. We finally got it correctly.

William Bratton:

He wrote for the practitioners in language that was artful, clear, concise, and relevant to their world. George had no ego associated with his work. It wasn't about himself, but finding ways that the criminal justice and policing could be improved. George never described himself as a criminologist because he thought, as I do, that too many criminologists write for each other, for their academic standing, for their journals, for the applause, rather than for the cops and community leaders on the ground where it was most needed and could be the most impactful.

William Bratton:

George was always willing to engage with others in the law enforcement community, thinking about their problems and thinking about how to best address them. Always willing to engage with both supporters and critics.

William Bratton:

One of those examples of that was when he sat in on the New Jersey Governor's Commission and reviewed issues in the Camden Police Department, and along with the chair of that committee, Charlie Wolgeman, another giant in American policing, pressed for the reform of the police department laying the foundation for its eventual abolition and creation of a new County Police Agency, which has been a celebrated model of effective community policing under the leadership of recently retired Chief Scott Thompson, a Kelling protégé.

William Bratton:

Fortunately, all of us, George recognized the importance of the pen, in the later years, the keypad, and excelled at wielding it. He wrote extensively with his hundreds of articles, papers, books, and lectures gathering widespread acclaim and discussion. I mean, he appeared in the City Journal of the Manhattan Institute over a 30-year period. In fact, his last work was in the Journal in 2019, shortly before his death, entitled, Community Policing Agency ... Excuse me. Rightly Understood. It was George at his best, pushing back against the anti-police sentiment that has risen in the US, sparked in large part, by a series of tragic high-profile police involved killings in major cities. But also by the work of critics, mostly on the Left, holding up the banner of social justice and criminal justice reform, but also on the Libertarian Right, who argue that targeted policing aimed at public disorder is coercive, hostile to community life, and often racist.

William Bratton:

These critics see such policing as the opposite to what they call community policing. Yet [inaudible 00:19:01] have gained popular currency among police critics like Black Lives Matter, and essentially blinded them from seeing that the sort of assertive policing that they object to can actually be an element of a community policing model, a successful community policing model.

William Bratton:

George, in his later years, fought back vigorously against what he thought was a serious effort to undermine his life's work and which work I share. So I will continue the fight that he so vigorously waged. George's voice and wisdom will certainly be missed as this national debate continues to rage. But that debate will continue to be influenced by his enormous and impactful body of work, to include the 1972 Kansas City Preventive Policing Experiment, his 1978-79, New York Foot Patrol Study, and most certainly the Atlantic Monthly 1982 article Broken Windows co-authored by George and James Q. Wilson, that has so profoundly influenced my professional life and career. It is arguably the most important and impactful policing theory of the last 50 years. One that I have championed, and use so impactfully in every department I've led.

William Bratton:

Assisted by George and Bob Wasserman, it's our first successful collaboration in the subways of New York in 1990, the streets of New York City in 1994, 1996, the streets of Los Angeles in 2002 to 2009, and once again, in New York City in 2014 to 2016.

William Bratton:

George and I are both Peelians, admirers of Sir Robert Peel, who 1829 created the London Metropolitan Police Services. Peel, the Father of British Policing, and I would argue the Father of Democratic Policing put forth nine principles policing that are my Bible, the foundation of everything that I, and I believe George, built our careers upon.

William Bratton:

The first of the principles reads: The basic mission for which the police exists is to prevent crime and disorder.

William Bratton:

The second reads: The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

William Bratton:

Number seven: Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police. The police being only members of the public who paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

William Bratton:

And number nine: The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

William Bratton:

The first principal contains what I believe are the five most important words in the essence of what policing is, and capable of doing, and must be about. Our role is to prevent crime and disorder. For so many decades in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, it was believed that we could not. That crime was caused by so many other factors. We now understand that crime is caused by individuals, and that the police exists to control the behavior of individuals, but to do it compassionately, consistently, and constitutionally. That is our challenge. And that is something that George consistently fought for and wrote about. If you think of those nine principles, four of which I have read, written in 1829, they're as relevant, and maybe even more relevant, in 2020 than they were back then.

William Bratton:

As important as Broken Windows was to American policing, it was another great event that George helped to create and lead that has, perhaps, an even more significant impact on American law enforcement, and that was the Harvard Executive Sessions on policing held at the John F. Kennedy School-

William Bratton:

...on policing, elder at the John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1985 to 1992, who I believe that the philosophy of community policing was created, with its emphasis on partnership, problem-solving and prevention. George wrote or coauthored 6 of the 17 papers that came out of that conference. Catherine told me that he believed that the best of these was one he coauthored with Mark Moore, entitled the Evolving Strategy of Policing, where they discussed in detail what they described as the political era, reform, professional era, and as memorialized at the executive session, the community policing era that has shaped American policing for better than the last 30 years.

William Bratton:

I was privileged to coauthor a number of papers and articles with George over the years, including the last of the 17 executive session papers titled, Implementing Community Policing, the Administrative Problem in July 1993. He was an extraordinary man you could spend time with, to work with, and to share ideas with. George Kelly changed public safety, and in the process, he changed lives, including mine, certainly including mine.

William Bratton:

As a young police supervisor in Boston, I was doing many of the things George wrote about. The Fenway Project was an early attempt to apply the lessons that later came to be called, in that perfect intuitive metaphor, broken windows. And yet George's focused mind, his clarity of thought, a sharper shape to my understanding of what worked and why.

William Bratton:

George saved lives too, because the ideas he spread made policing better at a time when the life and death stakes were higher than they'd ever been. People are alive today because police across the country embraced quality of life policing and the notion that stopping little things before they got big mattered. It was a radical, simple idea, and the cops gravitated towards it.

William Bratton:

George was a practitioner. He was never a cop, it's true, but he understood them. He liked them. He understood that they mattered, that what they did had outsize impact on the neighborhoods they served, sometimes bad, but far, far were often good. The philosophy he helped articulate, magnified that good impact many, many times over.

William Bratton:

In an era when we have forgotten that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, George took us from Peel to practicality to practice. His work has lasted because it's common sense, open and available. His work, in particularly broken windows, is also targeted because it's so strong. It's a work that's opposed by those who prioritize the often tragic tales of criminals over the tales of their victims, whether those victims are people or neighborhoods.

William Bratton:

Today's reform advocates fear broken windows because it has the power of truth. We will never see another George, and I will miss my friend. But while we will never see another, we desperately need more like him, independent, innovative, active thinkers, practitioners on the ground, or maybe thinking actors to remind us that the challenges that we face can be met.

Rafael Mangual:

Well, thank you so much, Commissioner Bratton, for those absolutely wonderful remarks. They really made me remember George quite fondly. And for those who don't know, George actually introduced you and I. When I was young in my career at the Manhattan Institute, George and I were working together on something that he was writing, and he told me that one of the things I would need to do to complete my end of the assignment was to talk with you. And I remember him picking up the phone and putting us in touch, and a couple of days later I was in your office. And it got me to thinking, I actually don't know how you and George met. So I was hoping you could start us off by telling us how your careers crossed paths and how he ended up being such a great mentor to you.

William Bratton:

Interestingly enough, neither George nor I could remember the circumstances of our first meeting. But as he so often did, Bob Wasserman, the problem solver, solved that problem for us. So often is the case with Bob, he's a principal actor in the resolution of the problem. I met George through Bob, Bob Wasserman, who has been a mentor and a friend and a colleague that, in many respects, a mirror image of George, but for a longer period of time was the director of operations to being a whiz kid in the Boston Police Department in the 1970s when I was a young sergeant, lieutenant, admiring the then police commissioner of Boston, Bob diGrazia, one of the most innovative change agents I'd ever seen, then and now. And I've modeled my career largely after a lot of what he brought about.

William Bratton:

But Bob was instrumental in assigning me as a young sergeant and then lieutenant to an initiative that he was creating in the Fenway area of Boston, the Fenway, Back Bay, South End area, very distressed in the early '70s with crime and disorder.

William Bratton:

And we developed a program called Neighborhood Responsive Policing. And I was very surprised when I would go into community meetings arranged three or four nights a week... I'd be armed to the teeth with criminal statistics. I was a whiz kid back in those days with computers. And believe it or not, I have 10 of these now. But back in those days, I could, with those three foot long green sheets, do pretty well.

William Bratton:

And I'd go to those meetings, and people didn't want to talk about the serious crime in those neighborhoods, they wanted to talk about the broken windows, the quality of life, the prostitute on the corner, the gang on the corner, the abandoned cars, the graffiti. And I, early on, came to understand and was exposed to Bob Wasserman, to the Peelian principles. The focus of police needed to be on both the crime and disorder, but the focus needed to be on prevention. And you could not reduce crime without focusing on disorder. And you could not focus on disorder without dealing with crime.

William Bratton:

And then 1982, broken windows, Atlantic Monthly, Bob Wasserman sent that article to me. And it wrote about everything that I'd experienced in the late '70s. And George and I were introduced by Bob. And it was effectively a marriage made in heaven, the researcher practitioner, and the kid that was going to go on to become the practitioner of the subways of New York, the streets of New York, the streets and hills of Los Angeles, and once again, back into the subways and streets of New York again. It was a wonderful ride with him. [crosstalk 00:29:54]

Rafael Mangual:

Well, that does sound wonderful. It actually makes me think, I've always found it interesting how revered George is throughout the policing community, not just among policing scholars and thinkers, but among cops themselves. And despite being an academic who never himself worked on it as a cop, I think it's actually pretty uncanny when I think about his ability to be accepted by, and to prove himself useful, to policing practitioners.

Rafael Mangual:

And given your relationship and the length of that relationship in a different context in which the two of you worked together, I was hoping you could just reflect on some of the most impactful advice and ideas that he had during your tenure that helped you achieve the great crime declines that you achieved in New York and Los Angeles after that.

William Bratton:

Well, the advice was quite clear, to be there, to get in and see for yourself. I'd like to think of myself during my career as a walk-around chief, that getting out of the offices and into the subway cars at all hours of the morning, into the backseats of police cruisers with the cops. And so in many respects, another reason why George and I bonded so well and so many of those that we engage with, was that the desire to see it for ourselves, to feel it, to smell it.

William Bratton:

You went into the subways of New York and smell them and see them and understand what the cops were up against in trying to police that environment, while what they were trying to deal with in Caracas, Venezuela, where they had no equipment, terrible leadership, were living in poverty themselves. Probably the significant, most significant lesson that I learned from George and experiences that we ultimately shared was the importance of being there and the importance of being the conduit for what you learned there, to take it back and to create change.

William Bratton:

I'm a great admirer of Gandhi, the Indian leader, in terms of what he was able to bring about. Like all humans, there were failings there. But an expression he used, I think, would be used to describe George. "To create change, you must become the change."

William Bratton:

George was the embodiment of the change that he was preaching. He wasn't telling you to do something that he would not do himself. And it was a lesson that has stayed with me, that I'd like to think as a chief, I was not going to be asking my cops to do something I would not do. But as importantly, by being there, seeing what they're experiencing, worked very hard to equip them, to train them.

William Bratton:

And George, in his later years, particularly in the last couple of years, talking about the issue of accountability, was very focused on the two things that cops need, leadership and training. And unfortunately, the profession, which is constantly evolving, and at times the evolution is revolutionary in community policing philosophy. The Kennedy school was revolutionary. Comstat was revolutionary.

William Bratton:

But the one thing that we are still having problems with is developing police leadership. We have had many great leaders over time, but the leadership policing, in many respects today, is suffering. Many of our best are leaving, being pushed out the door, ironically, by the events of the last couple of years. And we really have very few programs to develop leaders, that we have [inaudible 00:33:31], thank God, with senior managements to police or the FBI executive sessions. But many police leaders are largely self-taught. That's the importance of George Kelly, because his writings gave them a body of knowledge to work with. And when he was alive, George always made himself available to police chiefs, he and Bob Wasserman, both of them, and particularly chiefs who were aspiring to move up.

William Bratton:

And so George's contribution was he created generations of police leadership, but in arguing for, if you want to increase police accountability, the reform is going to have to come from within. It's going to have to be led by those police chiefs. And if coming from within, it was going to have to resonate with the cops. And one of the ways you resonate with cops is to understand their needs and meet those needs for equipment, but particularly for training.

William Bratton:

We do such a awful job of training American police officers, six months of the Police Academy, trying to cram 26 different bodies of knowledge that would normally take six or eight years to try to give to a doctor or anybody else who's going to go out and be impactful on people's lives on a daily basis. And then after the fact, we send them to the range, maybe once or twice a year, to keep their skills with their firearms, something that most police officers in their lives will never have to use. But we train on it every year.

William Bratton:

But what we don't do a very good job of doing is training them for the eventualities of what they're going to face on the streets today. We don't train them to understand the difference between all the different types of narcotics that are out there and the various reactions on people. We don't train them to understand all the different mental illnesses and how their interaction with the mentally ill can go wrong so quickly because they don't understand how to approach a bipolar versus a schizophrenic versus a manic depressive. We just don't train for that. And it's amazing we don't have more problematic incidents. And it's only for the high caliber of people that want to come into policing, that they want to do good, that we're fortunate that the lack of training that we provide, the lack of leadership and, unfortunately, at this particular point in time, the lack of support from the public...

William Bratton:

Policing has changed so dramatically in last 30 years, the reforms. You write eloquently about those reforms, Rafael. You really are basically, in some respects, a successor to George, as I've watched you develop over time. And you tell it like it is. And you also, like George, want to be out where it's happening. And that story needs to be told, and it's just not being told, well, it's being lost in the momentum. And the momentum is against the police. The momentum is against the men and women in the arena today.

William Bratton:

And it needs to be told, because if you train them, if you lead them, they will get it done. But we've been so deficient. And this whole issue of defunding the police, let's get real. Instead of defunding, we need to be funding even more, so they can be trained better, so they can be led better, they can be equipped better, so there are more of them who can not only deal with crime and disorder, but deal with developing relationships in the neighborhoods.

William Bratton:

That's what George was all about. And George, his last two years, he was so frustrated and so angry that the work of the last 30 years was unraveling. And the American public just did not understand that they were destroying so much good that had been created over those 30 years.

Rafael Mangual:

Right. Right. Yeah. No, and I think we all feel that momentum shift. And before I go into my next question, I just want to quickly break the fourth wall here and just tell our audience that, to the extent that you guys all have questions, please feel free to submit them in the chat functions of whichever platform you're watching us. And I'll do my best to weave those in as we go through.

Rafael Mangual:

But commissioner, as I was listening to you talk here, what was interesting to me was that there doesn't actually seem to be as much space as many people might think there is between you and, say, some of the members of the mainstream criminal justice reform movement, insofar as I think both parties would place a premium on better training so that we can make police, citizen interactions, less fraught.

Rafael Mangual:

And when I think about your recent years and the momentum shift that you talked about, the topic of policing and public safety really does seem to have fallen victim to this kind of hyperpartisan moment that we've been living through. One of the things I remember fondly about George was that despite all the time I spent as a young man reading his work, watching his lectures, speaking with him, spending time with him, his personal politics still remained somewhat of a mystery to me. And it was really just about the ideas. And as we watch the criminal justice debate in America unfold, my question is, how is viewing these issues through a partisan lens, by people on both sides, how has that hindered the progress that cities like New York and LA have made? How has making this a political issue rather than one about the ideas themselves proved to be a barrier to progress?

William Bratton:

Unfortunately, and it's a great point, Rafael, it complicates it immensely. George and I, I think, and many of my colleagues, American police chiefs, would describe ourselves as apolitical. Although we had to have political skills to basically navigate the political world that we were so intimately engaged with.

William Bratton:

In my case, just think of it, I worked for Rudy Giuliani. I worked for Bill de Blasio. Talk about opposite sides of the spectrum, you couldn't get much more opposite than those two. But as a police commissioner, I had to be able to work with both for the betterment of the city that we were trying to police, and for the betterment of the department of the officers I led.

William Bratton:

We are at a time of incredible disarray, where so much of our politics revolve around political hashtags, if you will, defund the police, re-imagine the police, so much of the terminology out there. I describe it, you and I have talked about this, as an Etch-a-Sketch moment, that it's as if over the last six months that 30 years of police reform, beginning with that Harvard executive session, where community policing was birthed, that we are always evolving. We're always in evolution, always learning, always reforming. And we have come so far, probably farther than so many other professions, and certainly come much farther than the politics that we are now seeing on display, whether it's the far right, the far left, or people that think they're in the center.

William Bratton:

And police have to be engaged in a phenomenal juggling act to try and survive in those circumstances. We'll get through it. I'm the eternal optimist that... George Kelly and Bob Wasserman and I came to New York in 1990 with the belief that we could deal with all the troubles and ills of the subways and then the city. And we did, because we surrounded ourselves with people who were even smarter than us, but people who also wanted to create change.

William Bratton:

We'll get through this, but it's going to be very difficult. It's going to be very difficult, because there's never been a time, I think, in modern times, where we have been so divided because of the politics of the day. And that's where police are going to become much more essential, because in the turmoil, and then right up to the national election, the turmoil that's going to follow after the national election, it's going to be the police in the middle, trying to maintain order, trying to maintain order for the far right, that we're so fearful of, and on the far left that we're so concerned about, that they're going to be in the middle.

William Bratton:

And it's always been my hope, and this is a dream that George and Bob Wasserman and so many of us shared, that Frank Cobb, who I know spent a lot of time recently talking to George about, who did a phenomenal job facilitating the executive sessions, the idea that you were never going to correct the issue of race in this country, systemic racism, without the police being at the center of it. And for all my 50 years in policing, I worked hard to basically focus on that issue, to be able to see the Black community, be able to see the Latino community, to be able to see the immigrant community, to see their strengths as well as their weaknesses, and to understand the importance of policing in the idea of democracy, addressing their concerns and their issues.

William Bratton:

You are not going to solve the problem of race in America without the police, without active police involvement, active police leadership. So the unceasing attacks, by both the left and now the right, as much as the right talks about law and order, they have more of a problem than the left in the sense of the white racist supremacist, et cetera. But they're all engaged, and on the right, the [inaudible 00:42:33] attacking government, on the left, wanting government to do more.

William Bratton:

And who's the man in the arena? Who's the men and women in the arena, with blood, sweat, and tears, they're going to have to deal with it? The police. And the more we beat up on the police, the weaker they're going to be to resolve these issues, because we are going to be, ultimately, I shouldn't say we, because I'm no longer in the business, but those who have succeeded me, they are going to have to resolve it, because without the police, it will not be resolved.

Rafael Mangual:

And when I hear you, I just can't help but feel some bit of a sense of despair because I think you touched on something really important, which is that if police become a punching bag, where they're getting hit from both sides, eventually over time, that job, that career path, it seems intuitive, but that's going to become less attractive to really high caliber recruits.

Rafael Mangual:

I think departments like New York, given the sort of cash a job has always had, is always going to have a pool of people that they can draw on that's extremely talented. But for smaller and mid-sized departments around the country, do you think that we're approaching the moment in which we might actually start seeing the effects on the ground of a lack of interest in careers in policing by really talented individuals? And how do you think that lack of interest might translate to the results that police have now been expected to produce as a matter of course?

William Bratton:

Don't despair. I don't. I get frustrated from time to time. George got frustrated, certainly, in his last years. One of the benefits of being in the business for 50 years... Actually, tomorrow will be my 73rd birthday. And on Wednesday, I'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of my joining the Boston Police Department. I actually have...

Rafael Mangual:

Happy anniversary.

William Bratton:

I have a new book coming out with Random House, Father's Day next year, titled The Profession. And going through my files and looking for some photographs to go with the narrative of the memoir, I actually found the photo of me being sworn in on that day by Commissioner Ed McNamara in 1970. And I look back to the '70s, a time of extraordinary turmoil, maybe even more strongly than what we're dealing with now, with the single exception of the absence of social media. Back then we had media that, by and large, we were able to trust, that was not influenced by every Tom, Dick, and Harry sitting in his basement with a computer.

William Bratton:

But think of the men and women that joined policing in the '70s. They became the leaders of the '80s and the '90s. I'll look at me, for example, in the sense of as a young man who, despite all that was going on and all the attacks against police... And case of New York city, 12 police officers murdered in one year, half a dozen of them by Black activists who assassinated them as part of the race turmoil at that time.

William Bratton:

Young men and women, and particularly young men, because a lot of women did not start coming into the business in the late '70s, came in because we're always going to have those who want to make a difference, who want to serve the public, who want to serve. And look at some of the leadership that came out of that era of the '70s and '80s, the Evans brothers in Boston, Paul and Billy, Ed Davis, Kathy O'Toole, Ed Flynn, so many of the chiefs that participated in the Harvard executive sessions, both the first and the second session. And even now some of the chiefs that are out there battling against the forces that are content on trying to...

William Bratton:

-you're, sort of out there battling against the forces that are content on trying to destroy them, that we will always attract good men and women and the pool was enlarged significantly in the 80's and 90's, because now there are women that are now coming in and have had time to grow up and develop and be chiefs. One of the things I worry about is the forces at work right now have just driven three of the most talented female chiefs in the business off the job, which is unfortunate because ironically, as they're seeking to change the complexion of policing, make it more representative of the communities we police some of the first casualties are minority females in leadership positions in this country, but the optimism that brought me into policing in the 70's and some of the apartments I went into, whether it was New York or Los Angeles, I don't want to go into a situation that's everything is fine. I want to go in and like George, go in and take the risk.

William Bratton:

Fortunately, there are a lot like me, both still active and others that are being developed. And that challenges as George understood to mentor them, to stimulate them, to inspire them, to give them encouragement, give them hope and give them support.

Rafael Mangual:

Yeah. And that actually brings me to an audience question here that I want to work in because I think it just fits with exactly what you were saying. When we think about developing this younger class of talent, what if any role can universities play? If you had university leaders at your table, what would you tell them is the most important thing that they can contribute to help develop the quality of future police officers, whether that's training or knowledge? How would you say universities should really think about their mission in terms of preparing the police officers of tomorrow?

William Bratton:

Something I do worry about is that universities or colleges, whether the public or private, that being challenged in ways within many respects, they're being intimidated or misplaced the diet to be socially conscious, forgetting that their roots to bring people from all sides of an issue into that campus to debate and to learn. And to have a broad base group of instructors, not from one side or the other, but that students can come in and understand the larger world that they're going to be going out to. I am the beneficiary of a public education, high school, college, Washington State College, a scholarship provided by the federal government in the 70's where they wanted to start bringing in the Boston Police Department only 25 people out of 2,800 had a college degree. Many chiefs around the country did not have college educations.

William Bratton:

So out of the 60's and 70's turmoil came the idea to better educate police. And the benefit I received from that education was that every day when I went to school, I was with young people because it was a little older than now the average age, they were 18, 19. I was 23, 24, 25. And in the afternoon when I'd go down and stand outside of the JFK Building in my uniform to basically deal with the anti-war protestors, many of whom were classmates that I've been in the cafeteria classrooms with that morning, I was fortunate that I didn't get wrapped in a blue cocoon. I didn't just spend all my time with cops, I was spending time in the larger world. Well, one of the problems I worry about in the institutions that have gone too far one way or the other is that they are only attracting people who want an education that's sort of left on education of the right.

William Bratton:

And in my case, I got a broad based education in the midst of extraordinary turmoil. My two best classes in terms of my development as a human being, I believe were art appreciation, A-R-T, that's my Boston accent. We were fortunately right next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we spent our classroom time in that museum and walking around and a lot of art, I don't like, it just doesn't appeal to me, but [inaudible 00:50:15] taught me you got to look beyond, behind the picture, what was going on in society that time, what shaped that artist image that you see on the wall, to see. And one of the things that cops need to do and police need to do and the public needs to do is see each other. [Inaudible 00:50:32] taught them in a very critical time in my career, starting as a police officer, and then Betsy [inaudible 00:50:38] Urban Geography 112, the importance of cities.

William Bratton:

Because what does cities do? They bring people together. They bring people together in a way that they can see each other. They can see the differences. And hopefully this is where the police come in to provide a safe environment where they can see that those differences don't antagonize, don't generate hate, but instead generate understanding. So going forward, I am concerned that the universities and our colleges have gone some are too far to the left some are too far to the right, and they're losing their true purpose, which was basically to bring people to center, to give them exposure to all the ideas. And so when a university censors a speaker that they won't bring along to the campus because of fear of demonstrations, then we're giving into the mob and that's not what they should be about.

Rafael Mangual:

So I'm going to change gears a little bit here, right? It's no secret that New York city has seen really troubling uptakes in both shootings and homicides this year. And a lot of people have sort of responded to this somewhat nonchalantly, right? Pointing out that well we're in terms of the homicide tally, we're essentially where we were 10 years ago. And that may be true, but still we have not seen anything close to a 40% year over year increase in homicides in decades. And so one question I have is whether or not we should be alarmed by the uptake that we're seeing now and why? And then also I'd love it if you could just sort of talk a bit about what you think is behind that. Why have we seen such a dramatic regression in terms of the progress that we've made on fighting crime over such a short period of time?

William Bratton:

Couple of thoughts on that we should be very concerned with it. As of this morning, the CompStat figures out at the NYPD, there has been almost a 100 more murders so far this year than last year. And people may say, well, geez, 350 murders, back in 1990 when I first came to New York, they were 2,262. Isn't that great that we're nowhere near where we were? Yeah, but we're also on a trajectory that we don't want to be on. Shootings also up dramatically, as you pointed out, and we're starting to see erosion in some of the other crime areas burglaries up dramatically, car thefts and scooter thefts now going through the roof., Rape everybody points to, isn't it great that rapes are down so dramatically.? I don't think they're actually down, I think they're not being reported to be quite frank with you. Because why over the space of a couple of months would all of a sudden rapes where we were encouraging reporting of it declined so dramatically, there's no explanation for that.

William Bratton:

And what's going on is that the crime increases are not unique to just New York. 25 largest cities in this country, almost without exception, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, you would think with all the rhetoric coming out of Washington it's all Democrats, but a lot of these Republicans led cities are also in trouble, but the one commonality is it's happening largely in the minority community, largely and predominantly in the black community to a lesser extent than the Latino community in every one of those cities. And that's something that needs to be focused on because I think we'll also find as we get into those cities, that so much of it is being fueled by gang violence. And it's not about violence committed during the act of a robbery or a burglary, it's all vengeance, it's all the foolishness the gangs get into over being disrespected.

William Bratton:

So as we get deeper into that particular problem of shootings and murders, I think we're going to find the bulk of it is gang related and why are gangs getting so prolific all of a sudden? One, the availability of guns. Two, I would blame some of it on the criminal justice reform movement, well-intended to deal with some of the over-incarceration issues, the 1990's, but district attorneys around this country, a whole group of them pushing back against the idea of prosecuting in the minority community for minor offenses. Where do the bulk of calls come in american cities for minor offenses? The 311 calls for the loud party, for the prostitute in the corner, the barbecue party that's getting out of control. It's largely, unfortunately in the minority neighborhoods, the poor neighborhoods, which brings police in large numbers into those neighborhoods. And when police start being pulled back in the case of New York City, what's going on, the cops that were able to be in there controlling disorder, preventing it. George is all about preventing those gangs from getting active, hundreds of them and pulled out of those neighborhoods to police the demonstrations.

William Bratton:

And demonstrators when they're arrested the courts, the prosecutors are not doing anything with them. And compounding it has been the Coronavirus, which effectively was like pouring a gasoline onto the fire that was already smoldering of criminal justice reform, reduce the prison population. And now with the virus, there was an excuse now you have to let them all out. Look at Rikers Island in New York City, it went from almost 6,000 down to 3,000 like that. It had already been reduced from 22,000 back in the 90's. Well-intended but with what should have been expected consequences. I get a tweet the other day about that, what do you expect when you let out thousands of criminals out of the jails, when you house them in hotels throughout on the case of Manhattan, 29 hotels now are housing those people that were formally in Rikers and that you're not doing anything about treating the mentally ill.

William Bratton:

That is the single most phenomenal failure in our American democracy that has contributed so dramatically to the fear and the disorder we see in the streets. We created it with the institutionalization of mental institutions in the 70's to charge votes so eloquently about this paper with Mark Moore, the reform era, if you will, the professional police era that we deinstitutionalized, we de-police, we reduced the size of American police forces, and we decriminalized. We are going through exactly the same thing that George and [inaudible 00:56:57] in the 70's at this moment, we are in a moment where we are doing nothing really effectively to deal with the emotionally ill. We had de-policing, both reducing the size of police force, as well as decriminalizing.

William Bratton:

Once again, history is doomed to repeat itself. That's why George was always a historian, learn in from the past. It's as if the last 50 years of learning in the midst of all of this reform the police and the focus on police that we don't understand our history. I'm fortunate because I live most of it for these 50 years, but anybody living in New York that the average age in New York, 50% of our population didn't live here in 2000, but the New York they know with the New York of safety of the last 20 years, they have no understanding of what it looked like back then or how it can get back there. In a city that's now going to seven or eight billion dollar deficit that's not hiring cops, that's losing cops. That's not picking up the trash. That's no longer funding anti-graffiti movements, that still hasn't figured out what to do with the mentally ill after spending billions of dollars, a lot of failed efforts. It's no matter we have the crisis that we're in.

Rafael Mangual:

Right. You mentioned something that I think was really important, something I've written a lot about, which is you hinted at the concentration of crime and how the reality is, is that America's minority neighborhoods are really bearing the brunt of the burden that comes with the downside risk associated with various criminal justice reforms, right? I mean, we've seen this in New York City where the homicide uptake, the shooting uptake is really concentrated and driven by essentially a handful of the city's 75 precincts. But when I think back about New York's history and sort of the fact that New York has been a blue city for as long as I've been alive and has been before that, there was a real appetite in the 1990's to get tough on crime and my working theory has always been that while violent crime and disorder was largely concentrated in New York, for whatever reason, maybe because of the integrated nature of our subways, even the most well-to-do among us were sharing in that burden perhaps more so than other cities, right?

Rafael Mangual:

We just heard some news in the last couple of days about actor Rick Moranis is being randomly punched and attacked in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I wonder what your thoughts are on that. Is there any truth to the idea that there was such an appetite for the kind of aggressive broken windows community policing that New York adopted during your first tenure in the 90's, because all New Yorkers really shared in that burden? And do you worry about cities like say Chicago, where the crime really does stay concentrated in certain pockets that are far removed from where the politically active tend to live, that you won't see that same kind of appetite to turn things around as quickly?

William Bratton:

Well, I'm not so sure you're going to see that appetite here at New York City either. The legislature in Albany and the City Council, the political leadership of this state and the city have really created a climate in an atmosphere where even if the police were encouraged to become more assertive once again, that a lot of the tools that I use back in the subways and the 1990's that I used in the streets in 94, 96, and indeed I was using as recently as 2014 and '15 have been taken away and there is not going to be a political climate in either the legislature or the City Council and I don't care who's elected Mayor or who might succeed Cuomo if he have a steps down as governor. The legislative body controls the legislation and the police are not going to be empowered to be assertive in taking back the streets.

William Bratton:

The good news is however, is that policing evolution and revolution that George wrote so eloquently about and that I try to practice and also write about is that we have what we now call precision policing what's the same as a doctor is constantly learning new ways to deal with significant illnesses with less negative impact on the patient. We now have precision policing which is never to impact on fewer lives, but deal with the crime that's being caused. The city of New York right now it's about five to 7,000 criminal players who are generating most of the serious crime that you're hearing about. And so instead of stopping hundreds of thousands of young black and brown men, we now have that ability to basically precisely try to focus on them. But even with that precision effort on the part of the police, you still need to affectively be able to deal with the disorder that is taking over so many parts of our city.

William Bratton:

The disorder that does lead to a 76 year old man being punched at 07:30 in the morning on the Upper West Side and the tragedy of that, is that is not an isolated incident. There's not a day goes by now that you don't see a similar such incident. And the tragedy of it, unfortunately, is that so much of that seems to be black and brown on white. At least that's how it's being portrayed in the media. And that's setting up at a time when we're trying to develop racial healing, it's creating a racial fear, a fear of the black or the brown man, of fear of the emotionally disturbed and a fear of the poor. And we have all these cross-currents at play at this particular time. It's going to take an extraordinary amount of good leadership to kind of thread the needle on this one. And while I remain optimistic that over time it will happen, it's not going to happen quickly, not going to happen easily and it's not going to happen without unfortunately more disorder.

Rafael Mangual:

When I think about how we can get back to that place I can't help but have hope in the idea that the lessons that people like you and George learned over the course of your really just incredible careers are going to prove themselves useful in the near future. And so one question from our audience is the fact that you served as head of department in major cities around the country, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, are there lessons learned that applied uniquely to those particular jurisdictions that maybe aren't applicable? And if you could just sort of speak to that aspect of the job where really learning the particulars of the city in which you're policing is important to succeeding that in job.

William Bratton:

Those of you who know me know I like to do comparisons between policing and medicine. The goal of both professions is to do no harm to the patient. And the patient of American policing is the city, is the community. The 18,000 police departments are like doctors that trying to deal with their particular patient. And while there's some commonality of illness like coronavirus can impact anywhere, crime certainly can impact anywhere. Cities, suburbs, small towns, villages, rich, poor neighborhoods. And what you have to hope for is that you are a doctor in this case, you're a police chief, you're a police leader is a good one that because like going to a doctor that has not kept up with his profession, that has not kept up with the latest techniques, he's not going to get you better. And also what does a doctor do? Like police chief and George was so eloquent in describing the importance of this and Sir Robert Peel in 1829 understood it.

William Bratton:

You come in an emergency trauma room that doctor has got to work certainly on the life-saving aspects of what he's dealing with, but he's got to also be dealing with all the other things that may impact on your recovery. And so even now, when you go to deal with coronavirus, the doctor wants to know all the other things about your history, the diabetes, the overweight, high blood pressure issues, because that's going to be impactful on is trying to cure his patient. So, either just differences between each city, I should know, I've worked in enough of them, I've dealt with many cities around the country. There are distinct differences, but the skill is to apply the medicines that have available to us, whether it's precision policing on crime CompStat, whether it's quality of life policing, how much do you use?

William Bratton:

And you and I have certainly talked about if it ultimately makes sense around the stop, question and frisk issue in New York, a belief that it was used too extensively on a patient that was getting better. And the patient was basically getting worse because the impact of that medicine was making the patient sicker in other ways. And so it requires a great skill set. It requires understanding your patient, but the good news is, and George wrote so eloquently about this. George is somebody special, I should have described him as a pharmacist, he has that whole pharmacy of all these medicines on the wall for a doctor to use for a police chief to use, how much quality of life enforcement? How much CompStat? That's what it's all about. It's the idea of let's learn from the past so we repeat its successes and expand on them and we don't repeat its failures.

Rafael Mangual:

So I really, really appreciate that response. And I think that this is a good opportunity to start weaving in more of the audience's questions, which have been coming as you and I have been talking. And one of the questions from one of our audience members is that you mentioned the three P's of prevention and problem solving and partnership, but it seems like partnership is perhaps getting short shrift among those three. And so the question is, is what can we do? What can police departments do? What can leaders do? What can thinkers like myself do personally to help advance that particular aspect of that three principles?

William Bratton:

Catherine in their comments used a line I often use when I start my speeches, that I was actually going to use it with Myriam actually, but she beat me to the punch, we live in interesting times it could be a curse or a blessing. And the idea of community involvement, policing for much of its history has been an exclusive profession, leave it to us we'll take care of it. The LAPD was probably the most vivid example of that. You won't give us enough cops to police the city adequately, but leave us alone and we'll police it. And how do they police it with too few police? Each did it very aggressively, very brutally, particularly to the black community the white community was fearful of. So the idea of community involvement is essential and that is the element that Sir Robert Peel talked about in three or four of his principles, the idea that police would never going to be successful unless they partnered with the community and partnered also with the rest of the criminal justice system.

William Bratton:

One of the great problems at the moment is the criminal justice system is fractured in many of our cities where DA's basically funnel more energies into the rights of the criminal and less in caring for all the rights of the victim and police find themselves literally without a partner that they've relied on for years. So the partnership aspect is not just only with community, but with the criminal justice system and all of its elements. And in dealing with the community it really is a matter of winning trust. And one of the reasons I've been so supportive, going back to my days in Boston in the 1970's, one of the things that those community members wanted when they'd attend my community meetings-

William Bratton:

One of the things that those community members wanted when they'd attend my community meetings, was they wanted to know their cops. They wanted to know the cops, not only at a time of crisis, but just day to day. When they saw that cop, who was he? Could they rely on him? And increasingly, they wanted those cops to look more like them if possible, particularly in our inner cities. And so this stuff is not rocket science. There's no tremendous complexity about this.

William Bratton:

George wrote in common sense, and that was his great gift, that so many of these academics and criminologists, they write in formulas and it's ad nauseam, and they write for each other, but they don't write for the people that have to practice it in the street. And the charge, he got it. And we used to talk about this, about how simple it is, in a sense, the building of the house, the framing of the house. The cost comes when you have to basically enclose the house, and that's where it ends up failing all the time, because government oftentimes is not willing to fund it, they're not willing to support it.

William Bratton:

And right now, is a case in point. They want to defund the police. They want to reduce the size of the police forces, instead of expanding the police so that more... For example, the city of New York, de Blasio, one of the things that he did was support Jimmy O'Neil and I when we wanted 3,000 more cops to implement neighborhood policing. To put in every sector, in every precinct in the city, cops who would stay in those neighborhoods, who could spend most of their time not chasing 911 calls, but interacting with the public, so the public would develop confidence in them. And like George, that we'd send to cops to ground, and they're all volunteer cops on top of that, cops who want to do that, or cops who want to work in the homeless outreach units.

William Bratton:

And so what are we doing now in New York? We're defunding, a billion dollars. We're not going to hire a recruit class, I can almost guarantee they're not going to hire the next recruit class, so that 36,000 police department will be now about 32,000 officers. So the 3,000 officers we got to staff up neighborhood policing in the face of rising crime, those cops are going to end up getting pulled out of that to go man those demonstrations, chase those 911 calls, or staff those sector cars. They won't be able to walk the beat, because there's not enough of them. That's what I talk about, the idea is to build a house, very simple, but if you don't have the money to furnish it, it's not livable.

Rafael Mangual:

Right, right. Another question from one of our audience members here is that you mentioned earlier on in your remarks, some of the deficiencies in police training today. And so the question is, what would your ideas be to make police officers more effective operators, given the sort of circumstances in which they're going to have to police over the course of their careers on the beat?

William Bratton:

A great question. And first off, extend that initial training from six months to nine months or a year. Many European police departments train their officers for a year or two before they get out in the street. One of the things we tried to change in New York, modeled after the LAPD model, that the benefit of working both of those cities was the blending of things they were doing well, and basically, not repeating things they were not doing well. So the training that we now provide at the NYPD involves a lot of field officer training, mentoring these kids when they come out of the Academy. Changing significantly their experience so it's not just the six months in the Academy, but it extends for a period of time with a mentoring officer once they get in the field.

William Bratton:

And the blessing I had in the 50 years of policing, only three years of my career where I had money to do everything I wanted to do. Buy technology, buy safety equipment for the cops, remodel and clean up their precinct station houses, and train them. And that was three years with de Blasio ironically, and Cy Vance, who had a lot of forfeiture money that we were able to use.

William Bratton:

And so in those three years, we gave them a three-week training program after the incident involving [Ghada 01:13:01] on a lot of different updates on use of force, on a whole range of deescalation techniques. We were able to also give them implicit bias training. We were able to give them training on how to deescalate, we were able to give them training on how to recognize the different types of behavior, depending on the type of drug somebody was on. We were able to give them different, improved training on how to deal with the mentally ill, that in the course of that period of time in this huge department, we're going to provide weeks upon weeks of updated training to the average cop on how to deal with the issues they were now facing in the city.

William Bratton:

And that once again, this is not rocket science, we know what skills cops need. They're talking about now that, wouldn't it be great to hire psychologists and sociologists to go out with the cops when they go out on all these emotionally disturbed calls? Imagine how many psychologists you're going to need to deal with the 300 some odd thousand emotionally disturbed calls that the NYPD handles every year. You going to have about 30,000 psychologists riding with them. If we can't even adequately staff mental institutions for the mentally ill, to give them adequate care and housing, how the hell do you think you're going to be able to fund that in the streets? It's foolishness, and it's playing to the mob in some respects.

William Bratton:

We know how to do this, and we should be doing it better, but unfortunately, once again, we're engaged in political hyperbole and political hashtags, which will accomplish nothing in the final analysis. We know how to train our cops, we just don't give them enough of it.

Rafael Mangual:

Now staying on this training point. One of the other questions identifies a real problem, which is that when you see some of these police citizen interactions that get out of hand, more often than not, you'll see a citizen become incredulous, say during a traffic stop, when they're asked to step out of the vehicle, because I think in their mind, the interaction has escalated in some meaningful way.

Rafael Mangual:

The law doesn't say that it has, and the question here is, can police do better to explain themselves while they're in the field, while they're working, to help people understand what's happening in real time? Obviously, to the extent that the circumstances allow for that. We don't want cops getting into legal debates while they're trying to perform a traffic stop, but is there more that police officers can and should be doing to bring the people that they're interacting with along, to help them understand what's happening so perhaps they don't get so upset, so perhaps they don't get some incredulous?

William Bratton:

Certainly, and we know how to do that. We know how to train for it, in other words, the traffic stop, the approach. How do you do it so that it's a less frightening experience, a less intimidating experience for the average person who's stopped? And at the same time, that the officer's safety level is still assured and insured.

William Bratton:

And we're assisted greatly in this in the sense that we now have the body cameras, we have the dashboard cameras, so that if an officer is making a mistake, either intentionally inappropriate behavior, or not conforming with the training or policy guidelines, you have the ability to catch that by monitoring, by supervising. You can't have a sergeant at every traffic stop, but you do have the ability now, with those cameras, to have units that can effectively watch for that. And in particular, that also that many agencies are much more receptive to citizen complaints now.

William Bratton:

So there is the ability to go to the camera. It used to be, he said, she said, and the benefit of the doubt would usually go to the cop rather than to citizen. But now, you have, in so many instances, the NYPD, a case point, that because every one of their vehicles is equipped with locators, that citizen complaints that some cops stopped me on this corner, in his car, yell out the window at me, that we would have the ability to identify that car, that cop, take a look at their body camera to see what actually happened. Was it as the citizen complained about, or was it something else going on there?

William Bratton:

So there's accountability capabilities now that can be used to begin to ensure that the training that we give, one, that we have enough of it, but that two, it takes hold. One of my big concerns about the initiative that commissioner Kelly created in the early part of 2002, 2003, as he was losing five to 6,000 cops that nobody really talked about, he lost a huge number of cops because of budget issues, to deal with that impact, he created the program operation impact, where a lot of cops under the 25 precincts with the highest crime. Unfortunately, they were the kids coming right out of the Academy. 12 kids supervised by one sergeant. That sergeant could not be there all the time supervising those 12 brand new kids, and it was a fatal flaw in a well-intended effort to control crime.

William Bratton:

So similarly, that the ability now with body cameras, et cetera, you have much more ability to supervise, to retrain, to identify training deficiencies, to identify a bad cop. Because the reality is, despite much improved screening, some get on the job who shouldn't be on the job. The New York Times had a very interesting editorial yesterday about the idea of arbitrators. The bane of the existence of American police chiefs are labor arbitrators. We want to fire these people for outrageous behavior. In almost 50% of the cases, they come back on with back pay. On the union side, they might argue that the penalty is so harsh, but when you look at some of these cases, you just shake your head. So that there's a lot that can be done to continue reform, and George was a reformer, I believe I was a reformer, and it's greatly enhanced by the technology that's out there today.

Rafael Mangual:

Another question from our audience touches on something, that you really focused in on in an interesting way, which is that while there is an accountability responsibility on the part of police to hold themselves to a higher standard, partnerships are not possible if the community is not assuming some part of that burden as well. And so the question here is, what can lay people working outside of government, what does their part look like? What can they do to help improve police community relations? What can they do to help ease police community tensions?

William Bratton:

Rafael, I missed the they. Who are the they you're referencing?

William Bratton:

Just members of the public who are not working within government.

William Bratton:

Oh, okay, so what can the public do? Not fight with the police. Every one of the things you see on television or on the front page of the paper, or on social media, what does it involve? A cop attempting to take an enforcement action, whether appropriate or inappropriate. And what is the result? That almost invariably, resistance. In this age of social media, the person that the officer's trying to retain, restrain or arrest is fighting. And I've been in a number of those naughty books in my younger days as a cop, it is not easy to take somebody into custody who is resisting.

William Bratton:

So one, if they would just not resist, and in New York, for example, there's a law against resisting a lawful arrest. So what the public can do is, in some respects, withhold judgment, and not immediately take a look... You know, how they had the expression, go to the tape? Well, the problem oftentimes, the tape has been carefully cropped, so you don't see the beginning, you don't see the end, you see the middle. And there's an old adage in policing, the first story is never the last story, and that's why police sometimes need a few days to assemble the story. Because I was in that business for 50 years, I don't recall a single incident that I had to investigate where the end matched the beginning, and all the myriad changes in between.

William Bratton:

But where the public responsibility falls, is that idea of obeying the law, controlling your behavior, and understanding on the part of the public, if people in your neighborhood are not obeying the law, not controlling behavior, and you are calling three, one, one on them, the police are going to come, and if they resist, the police are going to have to overcome that resistance. They can't just leave.

William Bratton:

But in the sense of backing the police up when it's appropriate, and one of the things that has changed so dramatically now is that, cops will tell you this, that so frequently, when they go to make an arrest, or even an admonishment, get off the corner or whatever, break up the dice game, there's resistance now, and it's encouraged by the fact that a lot of that quasi criminal element that's out there really feels that they have the backing of the public to push back on the police, and it's just engendering a lot more of that. We see it time and time again, and that is one of the troubling aspects of where we are. And if police are encouraged by our political leadership, whether it's the law and order crowd or the more sensitive community-based policing crowd, to start trying to take back the streets again, that'll be extraordinarily difficult.

William Bratton:

I don't envy young police officers, men and women today, and the challenges they face are extraordinarily different than what I faced. When I was a young cop, I went out there with my six shot revolver, my club, no bulletproof vest, no radio, and I was confident walking my beat, an all black neighborhood, distressed neighborhood, I wasn't fearful. All 150 pounds of me, white kid walking in those was very dangerous neighborhoods, because by and large, maybe it was begrudging, but there was a respect for the police, there was a responsiveness to the police.

William Bratton:

Some departments around the country, it was generated by fear, Los Angeles, Chicago, certain neighborhood precincts in Boston where the cops ruled by fear and intimidation, but it's a different environment out there now for these young kids, and we have to be careful that so much of the training is not so focused on deescalation and stepping back, that they lose the power of the badge, the power of the constitution, to enforce the law.

William Bratton:

The term enforce, it means you may have to use a degree of force, whether it's the verbal, or whether it's the physical, and I worry that we may be creating a generation of cops who, because of political pressure, because of the body cams, because of the societal response to their actions, are becoming fearful of taking assertive action, and that's going to be the challenge over these next couple of years, to try and find [inaudible 01:23:56]

Rafael Mangual:

So we're coming into our last couple minutes here, and so I think we probably only have time for one final question, and that question is-

William Bratton:

Do you still have an audience left, or have they all dropped off by now.

Rafael Mangual:

Oh no, I'm sure we have quite a sizable audience still left on here. And so what I want to wrap with asking you is the following. If you were king for a day, what are the two or maybe three policy levers that you would pull right now to help get things back on the right track, whether that's reversing this bail reform that's been so controversial, or various policies that have been adopted within police departments around the country. What are the two or three things that you would do right now?

William Bratton:

One would be, in the case of New York, but indeed around the country, take a careful look in a collaborative way, something that was not done in New York, where the politicians in Albany and the city council, effectively` without bringing in all the key players, passed a lot of reforms, well-intended, but with should have been expected consequence. To reform the reforms. I'm a reformer, I'm not opposed to a lot of what they'd like to do. I want to control behavior so we have to put fewer people in jail, I don't have a problem with that. In New York, I'm opposed to the de-centralization of the jails. Neighborhoods don't want them in their neighborhood. Rikers Island is perfect. Rebuild Rikers Island, make a luxury resort out there where you can basically retrain some of these people.

William Bratton:

But it's also the idea of, I would describe it in some respects, as the beginning of the destruction of our cities, and that was the well-intended effort of the institutionalization of our mentally ill. I know firsthand the horrific experiences the mentally ill dealt with in these fortress like institutions. I used to take people as a young cop. The doctor would basically use the police to take them to these mental institutions, and you'd get to [Wynn 00:01:25:55], and you'd see what was going on.

William Bratton:

Awful, horrendous. So I understand why they wanted to let these poor souls out of there. But they let them out but so many of them ended up in the streets, and they're still there. There's one woman in Manhattan, I've been watching her since 1989 when I first came to New York. She exists on Lexington Avenue between around 48th, I've seen her sometimes as far north as 72nd. I don't know how she's done it for 30 years, surviving on the streets of New York, living on the streets. Now there is a woman that effectively, we need to find a better way to not have her out there covered in blankets in freezing weather, or in the summer, sweltering in 95 degree heat. So the other big effort I would focus on would be the idea of dealing with the mentally ill.

William Bratton:

A third one that immediately comes to mind that's a very contemporary, maybe smaller in terms of the size of the issue, is the parole board in this state. The parole board in this state, shame on government or that parole board, that the number of cop killers they have been letting out of jail in the last year or two, many of whom I remember the names, back when those officers was slain, shot in the back, assassinated on the streets of New York, and they're letting these characters out. I think there's over two dozen now, cop killers that they have let out. What the hell is going on in that regard? What are our leaders thinking on this parole board issue? So that's a smaller one, but it's so demoralizing to the police. It's one thing to let people out of jail as part of the reform movement, but some of these unrepentant killers of police officers, I'm sorry, that's just a personal one. Smaller in scope than the mentally ill, smaller in scope than reforming and reforms, but one that is extraordinarily demoralizing to the police.

Rafael Mangual:

I couldn't agree more, and unfortunately, while we can go back and forth for quite some time, we're going to have to leave things there for our general audience. So before we close, I just wanted to invite our public audience to browse the Manhattan Institute's research, subscribe to our newsletter. If you're able to, please also consider supporting our organization. There's a link that you should all be seen below for that. MI is a nonprofit, and our work does depend on support from people like you. For those of you who will be attending the VIP session with the commissioner, just please remain on Zoom after we conclude. There'll be a brief intermission, and we'll restart shortly. Thank you so much, commissioner Bratton.

William Bratton:

Thank you, and a special shout out to Catherine Coles. Catherine, thank you for sharing George for all those years, as he spent many nights away from home, many of them oftentimes with me. Thank you for sharing him with us.

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A manhattan institute series

George L. Kelling Lecture

The George L. Kelling Lecture honors the work and legacy of the late criminologist and MI senior fellow. The inaugural 2020 lecture will be delivered by former NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton.

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