Monday, November 23, 2009

NY Magazine Profiles Bratton

Just wanted to share: New York Magazine profiles former LA police chief William Bratton.

In the debate over whether policing is an art or a science, Bratton is a firm believer that it’s a science. His successes, he says, were attributable to two basic policing strategies: CompStat and “broken windows.” The former is the system Bratton and his NYPD deputy commissioner, the late Jack Maple, developed in 1994 that introduced computer analysis of crime patterns and strict accountability measures to modern policing. The latter is the theory first articulated by the academics George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in 1982, and later put into practice by Bratton with New York’s transit cops and then with the NYPD, that by cracking down on minor quality-of-life crimes—graffiti, fare-hopping, breaking windows—police can reduce serious crime as well. “There’s nothing going on in Los Angeles that’s different from what I did in New York,” Bratton says. “I have CompStat and I have very assertive cops making a lot of arrests.”

And yet it was Bratton’s willingness to adapt these strategies to two very different environments that accounts for his successes. In other words, he was as much of an artist as he was a scientist. One crucial adjustment was patience. In New York City, Bratton had commanded 38,000 cops and was able to flood multiple high-crime areas simultaneously with hundreds of officers. In Los Angeles, he had only 9,000 cops. “Throwing 50 cops at a problem in Los Angeles was really difficult,” says Kelling, a consultant to the LAPD during Bratton’s tenure. “It meant he couldn’t do everything at once.” So, while Bratton cracked down immediately on prostitution in Hollywood, cleaning up the city’s notorious skid row had to wait. “This was much more of a patient, unfolding enterprise,” says John Linder, a consultant who worked with Bratton in New York and Los Angeles. “He was not as worried about the immediate impact as he was in New York.”

More here.

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