For more than three decades, William J. Bratton has been perhaps the most-recognizable face of the New York Police Department. No longer. Bratton announced August 2 that he would leave his role as New York City Police Commissioner next month for a job in the private sector.
Bratton rose to prominence in the 1990s, when he worked in tandem with then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to form a style of policing known as “broken windows,” which was credited with reducing the city’s crime rate. Although it later drew criticism for what some considered its infringements on citizens’ rights, the crime rate fell precipitously during Bratton’s tenure as commissioner. Bratton first caught Giuliani’s attention as New York City Transit Police chief, where he began experimenting with this style of policing.
After Bratton and Giuliani fell out in 1996, Bratton left for the private sector and then resurfaced in Los Angeles, where he was known as anti-corruption warrior from 2002 to 2009. Bratton again decamped to a job outside government in 2009, but he was picked by Mayor Bill de Blasio to return to New York in 2014.
Although crime has continued to fall since then in the city, Bratton has faced increasing public criticism. According to the New York Times, some New York City Council members expressed excitement at the prospect of the post-Bratton era, labelling him an “imperial police commissioner.”
In conjunction with Bratton’s announcement, de Blasio promoted current New York Police Chief James P. O’Neill to replace him.