NYPD’s new top cop promises to mend ‘rifts’

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was sworn in on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Credit: Getty Images
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was sworn in on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Credit: Getty Images

The NYPD officially has a new top cop.

Bill Bratton was sworn in by Mayor Bill de Blasio in front of a packed auditorium at police headquarters on Thursday.

With his signature Boston accent, Bratton spoke fondly of the “depahtment” he first led two decades ago.

“It is home,” he said. “And it is great to be back.”

And he addressed new challenges: When he headed up the NYPD in the mid-1990s, “terrorism was not an issue.”

“I don’t think I spent 1 percent of my time thinking about terrorism,” he said. After several briefings over the last few days, he said he estimates that now it’s going to take up at least 30 to 40 percent of his time.

Bratton even had kind words to say about former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“For over 40 years he has committed himself to public service,” Bratton said, highlighting Kelly’s military career and the fact that he held almost every rank in the NYPD.

“Ray Kelly gave his life and continues to love this city,” he said.

And highlighting that Kelly left the city with record low crime rates, he said, “For over 12 years he has committed himself to keeping the city safe, and he has in fact done that.”

And tacitly refuting rumors that Kelly had tried make his transition difficult and keep information and access away from him, he said the department was “totally opened up” to Bratton’s transition team. He added a personal anecdote: When he first arrived in his new office on Dec. 31, he was met by a bottle of Champagne and a note to Bratton and his wife that read, “Happy New Year and Good Luck. Ray Kelly.”

Still, he was explicit about the problems he saw in the department Kelly left behind.

“Right now we have a force that is really uncertain about what they should be doing,” Bratton said.

He promised to tailor the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk more exactingly, citing one of Kelly’s programs, Operation Crew Cut, as a good approach. Crew Cut targets efforts specifically at the small gangs that are responsible for much of the crime in the city, particularly in its troubled housing projects.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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