CIVIC CENTER — Newly-appointed Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who returned to the helm of the NYPD since last holding the post under former mayor Rudy Giuliani, pledged during his swearing-in ceremony Thursday to improve relations between the NYPD and the community.
“We will all work hard to identify why is it that so many in this city do not feel good about this department that has done so much to make them safe,” said Bratton as he was sworn into office by Mayor Bill de Blasio in a ceremony at One Police Plaza. “The challenge for all of us is to find that disconnection and to heal it.”
While Bratton praised his predecessor, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, for protecting New York after 9/11, he also made it clear that he would lead the department in a new direction, particularly when it comes to the NYPD's controversial use of stop-and-frisk.
Bratton has vowed to reform stop-and-frisk, reducing the number of stops and ensuring that they are warranted. He said he plans to steer the department to a policy that is constitutional, respectful, and compassionate.
"There's an expectation — or there should be an expectation — that the intrusion of police into people's lives should diminish," Bratton told reporters after the ceremony Thursday, adding that with the record drop in crime in New York City, police tactics should change. "You cannot arrest your way out of the crime problem."
Bratton said he would not object to additional oversight of the NYPD, including a federal monitor that a judge recommended last year after finding that the NYPD's was using stop-and-frisk in an unconstitutional manner. The City Council also passed a law last year mandating an inspector general to oversee the police department, a proposal de Blasio supported as a candidate for mayor. De Blasio said he would discuss the inspector general position with Bratton before announcing his appointee.
During his time as head of the Los Angeles police department, Bratton was subjected to similar federal and local oversight and, according to de Blasio, worked effectively with those monitors.
De Blasio praised Bratton Thursday as a visionary police official.
“It's not just the results that he achieved — it's how he achieved them,” de Blasio said. “Bratton at his essence is a progressive crime fighter.”
Bratton repeatedly referred to the city’s police force as “the guardians at the gates” and said his goal in returning to the department was to “ensure a collaboration unlike any we have seen in this city” between the police and the communities they serve.
Bratton also called on the residents of the city to do their part in helping the police ensure that New York stays one of the safest cities in the country.
“The policing of any community, any city, is not the sole responsibility of the police. It is a shared responsibility,” he said.
Bratton added that he was thrilled to return to One Police Plaza after more than a decade away.
“Who says you can't come home again," Bratton said. “It is home, and it's great to be back.”