Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday he stands ready to fight back and defend his officers from unfounded criticism that cops are either doing too little or too much.
In an extensive sit-down with Metro, New York City’s top cop repeated a refrain that recent headlines about rising crime and editorial referencesto the “good old days” under previous administrations are misleading.
“The good old days weren’t quite [as good] as they seem to remember,” Bratton said. “Let’s get beyond the hyperbole, let’s get beyond ‘the good old days.’ Mayor Bloomberg is gone. Commissioner Kelly is gone. Get over it.”
Bratton praised both Bloomberg and Kelly’s work given what he described as a mandate by New Yorkers to keep crime down.
“They did, but they had years that crime went up,” the commissioner added. “During our time…it’s trending in the right direction. I deal with facts, not with headlines.”
NYPD recently reported no change in shootings between January and late September 2014 and 2015 —854 shootings in both years. The 10-year average of shootings starting in 2004 stands at1,489.
At the same time, Bratton conceded there were 22 more homicides this year compared to last. Still, he argued 2014 saw the lowest murder rate since the 1950s.
The commissioner explained that anybody who plays politics with policing and crime statistics is “denigrating the city inappropriately.”
“I’ll let the mayor fight his battles,” Bratton said. “I’ll let the council fight theirs. But when it comes to police, I’m very comfortable fighting their battles.”
Bratton made similar comments on Tuesday when he pushed back against Comptroller Scott Stringer’s statement that City Hall “politicized statistics” in declaring New York City’s most recent summer the safest in decades.
He also took issue with recent efforts by the City Council to reform the department, specifically a pair of bills that would require the NYPD to track and identify aggressive officers.
The bills were proposed not long after the wrongful arrest of former tennis pro James Blake.
Bratton said Wednesday that council members should be more patient with the reforms already underway long before Blake was inappropriately detained by an officer who had not yet received the use-of-force retraining launched last fall. Other reforms include a risk management unit to look at patterns of police misconduct.
“All these things in the works and haven’t had the chance to take hold yet,” Bratton said, suggesting lawmakers approach him before they send out press releases.
“What they’re basically doing is interrupting and interfering with me and any other commissioners duties as policy makers,” he said. “They make laws. We make policy. Their laws are redundant on top of policies that we’re making.”
Besides defending his men and women in blue, Bratton also said he remained focused on his early commitment brining up morale within the rank and file.
Last year, Bratton admitted morale was low during a spate of protests demanding police reform and the subsequent shooting deaths of two police officers in Brooklyn.
Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bratton’s predecessor, last week told an audience at the Council for Foreign Relations morale has “never been lower.”
Bratton admitted that there are some officers unhappy with the new administration after an initial survey they conducted in 2014.
“We’ve been responding every one of their complaints about why was is so low,” he said, including speeding up officers’ interactions with the Civilian Complaint Review Board and adding 40 attorneys to the city’s legal staff to fight lawsuits against officers.
“I have 35,000 cops. Thirty-two thousand have not had a CCRB complaint, yet they get painted with the brush about CCRB complaints,” Bratton said. “It’s a pretty good track record I think.”