William Joseph Bratton CBE (born October 6, 1947) is an American law enforcement officer and businessman who served two terms as the New York City Police Commissioner (1994–1996 and 2014–2016). He previously served as the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department (BPD) (1993–1994) and Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) (2002–2009). He is the only person to have led the police departments of the United States' two largest cities – New York and Los Angeles.
|Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council|
|Assumed office |
August 18, 2020
|Preceded by||William H. Webster|
|Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council|
February 8, 2011 – August 18, 2020
|Preceded by||Gary Hart|
|Succeeded by||Karen Tandy|
|38th and 42nd Police Commissioner of New York City|
January 1, 2014 – September 16, 2016
|Mayor||Bill de Blasio|
|Preceded by||Ray Kelly|
|Succeeded by||James P. O'Neill|
January 1, 1994 – April 15, 1996
|Preceded by||Ray Kelly|
|Succeeded by||Howard Safir|
|Chief of Police of Los Angeles|
October 27, 2002 – October 31, 2009
|Appointed by||Jim Hahn|
|Preceded by||Martin Pomeroy (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Michael Downing (Acting)|
|Commissioner of the Boston Police Department|
June 30, 1993 – January 1, 1994
|Appointed by||Ray Flynn|
|Preceded by||Mickey Roache|
|Succeeded by||Paul Evans|
William Joseph Bratton
October 6, 1947
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Mary Bratton (divorced)|
Linda Bratton (divorced)
Cheryl Fiandaca (1988–1998, divorced)
Rikki Klieman (1999–present)
|Education||University of Massachusetts, Boston (BS)|
|Awards||Commander of the Order of the British Empire|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Unit||Military Police Corps|
|Service years|| Boston PD (1970–1983, 1992–1994)|
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police (1983–1986)
Boston Metropolitan District Commission Police (1986–1990)
NYC Transit PD (1990–1992)
NYPD (1994–1996, 2014–2016)
|Rank|| Commissioner of the NYPD|
January 1, 2014 – September 2016
Chief of the Los Angeles P.D.
October 27, 2002 – October 31, 2009
Commissioner of the NYPD
January 1, 1994 – April 15, 1996
Commissioner of the Boston Police Department
June 30, 1993 – January 1, 1994
Superintendent-in-Chief, Boston Police Department
Chief of the New York City Transit Police
Superintendent of the Metropolitan District Commission Police
Chief of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police
Superintendent, Labor Relations
Superintendent, Inspector of Bureaus
Patrol officer, Boston Police Department
Bratton began his police career at the Boston Police Department before becoming Police Commissioner in New York City, where his quality-of-life policy has been credited with reducing petty and violent crime. He was recruited to lead the Los Angeles Police Department in 2002 at a time when the LAPD was struggling to rebuild trust after the previous decade's Rodney King videotaped beating, Los Angeles riots, O.J. Simpson murder case's perjury by former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman and Rampart scandal, and presided over an era of reform and crime reduction. In January 2014, Bratton returned to the post of Police Commissioner in New York City, and served until September 2016.
Bratton has served as an advisor on policing in several roles, including advising the British government and is currently the chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for the U.S. government.
Bratton's policing style is influenced by the broken windows theory, a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signalling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. He advocates having an ethnically diverse police force representative of the population, being tough on gangs and having a strict no-tolerance of anti-social behavior.
Early life and education
Bratton is from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Boston Technical High School, graduating in 1965. From there, he served in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army during the Vietnam War.
Bratton returned to Boston in 1970 to start a police career in the Boston Police Department, and was sworn in as an officer in October 1970. He was promoted to sergeant in July 1975 and to lieutenant in March 1978. While serving as a Boston Police Officer, Bratton earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Service/Public Administration in 1975 from Boston State College (later absorbed by the University of Massachusetts-Boston).
In October 1980, at the age of 32 and ten years after his appointment to the BPD, Bratton was named as the youngest-ever Executive Superintendent of the Boston Police, the department's second highest post. He was dismissed as executive superintendent after he told a journalist that his goal was to be the Police Commissioner. He was reassigned to the position of Inspector of Bureaus, a sinecure which was responsible for liaison with minority and LGBTQ communities. He was later brought back into police headquarters to handle labor relations and 9-1-1 related issues.
Between 1983 and 1986 Bratton was Chief of Police for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, following which he became Superintendent of the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission Police. Bratton was Superintendent in Chief of the Boston Police Department from 1992 until 1993, then he became that city's 34th Police Commissioner. He holds the Department's highest award for valor.
New York City
Bratton became the chief of the New York City Transit Police in 1990. In 1994, Bratton was appointed the 38th Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He cooperated with Giuliani in putting the controversial broken windows theory into practice. He introduced the CompStat system of tracking crimes in New York City. Critics have argued that CompStat has created perverse incentives for officers to allow crimes to go unreported, and has encouraged police brutality, citing that complaints by citizens that involved incidents where no arrest was made or summons was issued more than doubled during the Giuliani administration.
Bratton resigned in 1996, while under investigation by the Corporation Counsel for the propriety of a book deal that he signed while in office as well as accepting multiple unauthorized trips from corporations and individuals. These offenses were generally considered minor. Front and center were alleged personal conflicts with Giuliani, partly due to Giuliani's opposition to some of Bratton's reforms and partly due to Giuliani's belief that Bratton was getting more credit for the reduction in crime than Giuliani.
Bratton worked as a private consultant with Kroll Associates, also known as LAPD's Independent Monitor, until his appointment by the Mayor of Los Angeles James Hahn as the LAPD's 54th Chief of Police in October 2002. Bratton was one of three candidates recommended to Hahn by the Los Angeles Police Commission under Commission President Rick J. Caruso.
On June 19, 2007, the Los Angeles Police Commission reappointed Bratton to a second five-year term, the first reappointment of an LAPD chief in almost twenty years.
In March 2009, Councilman Herb Wesson proposed an amendment to the City Charter, allowing Bratton to serve a third consecutive term as Police Chief.
On September 11, 2009, he was awarded with the honorary title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II "in recognition of his work to promote cooperation between US and UK police throughout his distinguished career".
On August 12, 2011, Bratton said he was in talks with the British government to become an adviser on controlling the violence that had affected London the prior week. He said he received a phone call from U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, and that he would continue speaking with British officials to formalize an agreement. Bratton was approached by British Prime Minister David Cameron to become the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner in July 2011, but Theresa May and the Home Office said that the commissioner was required to be a British citizen. Bratton instead was offered an advisor role to the British government, which he accepted in August 2011.
On December 27, 2012, he was hired as a consultant for the city of Oakland, California.
Return to New York City
On December 5, 2013, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio named Bratton as New York City's new Police Commissioner to replace Raymond Kelly. The New York Times reported that at Bratton's swearing in on January 2, 2014, the new Police Commissioner praised his predecessor Raymond Kelly, but also signaled his intention to strike a more conciliatory tone with ordinary New Yorkers who had become disillusioned with policing in the city: "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 – what has it been about our activities that have made so many alienated?" He stepped down in 2016.
In 2009, after stepping down from his post in Los Angeles, Bratton moved back to New York City to take a position with private security firm Altegrity Risk International.
On September 16, 2010, Bratton became the chairman of Altegrity, a corporate risk consulting firm that declared bankruptcy after defrauding the US Government of millions of dollars. On November 9, 2012, he stepped down as chairman and was retained as a Senior Adviser.
In 2010, Bratton was sworn in as a new member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Bratton is a key proponent of "broken windows" policing. Some media sources have described his policy as "zero tolerance" policing, but Bratton denies this. Bratton has called "zero tolerance" a "troublesome" term. Bratton and George L. Kelling wrote a joint essay in which they outlined a difference between the two:
Critics use the term "zero tolerance" in a pejorative sense to suggest that Broken Windows policing is a form of zealotry—the imposition of rigid, moralistic standards of behavior on diverse populations. It is not. Broken Windows is a highly discretionary police activity that requires careful training, guidelines, and supervision, as well as an ongoing dialogue with neighborhoods and communities to ensure that it is properly conducted.
The central theory behind broken windows policing is that low-level crime and disorder creates an environment that encourages more serious crimes. Bratton and Kelling also argue that low-level disorder is often a greater worry to residents than major crimes, and that different ethnic groups have similar ideas as to what "disorder" is. He and Kelling advocate both effective enforcement and lenient punishment for minor crimes. Citing fare evasion as an example, they argue that the police should attempt to catch fare evaders, and that the vast majority should be summoned to court rather than arrested and given a punishment other than jail. The goal is to deter minor offenders from committing more serious crimes in the future and reduce the prison population in the long run.
Bratton also supports community policing, describing it as being related to broken windows policing. He and Kelling stress the need for the police to collaborate with other government agencies and a variety of community groups, writing that "many of the challenges to public order confronting cities and communities cannot be solved by simple police action."
Bratton has stated that racial tensions and distrust of the police are hindrances to reducing crime. Bratton's solution in Los Angeles and New York City was to make police forces more ethnically diverse and "reflective of the ethnic make-up of their cities". Bratton argues that stop-and-frisk is a useful tool that should be used in moderation. Use of stop-and-frisk was increased during his first term as NYPD Commissioner and dramatically reduced during his second term. Bratton supported reducing it on the grounds that it was causing tension between the police and minority groups and that it was less needed in an era of lower crime.
In 1998, Random House published his memoir Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic, written with co-author Peter Knobler. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His most recent book, The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America, also written with Knobler, was a 2021 New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice.
Bratton has been married four times. He is currently married to attorney and TruTV analyst Rikki Klieman, and has one son, David, from a prior marriage. Bratton was previously married to attorney and Boston Police spokeswoman and newscaster Cheryl Fiandaca.
Bratton addressed the Roger Williams University graduating class at the May 22, 2010 commencement ceremony and also received an honorary degree during the ceremony. He also received an honorary degree from New York Institute of Technology.
After more than 40 years in policing, Bill Bratton retired from law enforcement in 2016. As of 2018, he is currently the Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk Holdings and is on the Board of Directors for Mission Ready Solutions.
Bratton is a Roman Catholic.
- Mancusi, Peter (September 19, 1980). "Bratton's confident: Boston's new police superintendent says, 'I'll have my detractors, but I know I can handle this job. I have no doubt about it.'". The Boston Globe.
- Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic.
- Archived June 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Carlos Granda (August 12, 2011). "LAPD reforms provide example for other cities". ABC News.
- Goodman, J. David (December 5, 2013). "De Blasio to Name Bratton as New York Police Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
- Goodman, J. David (August 2, 2016). "William Bratton, New York Police Commissioner, Will Step Down Next Month". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "US 'supercop' Bill Bratton says riot arrests not only answer". BBC News. August 13, 2011.
- Batty, David (August 13, 2011). "UK riots: police should tackle racial tension, says 'supercop' Bill Bratton". The Guardian. London.
- Swaine, Jon (August 13, 2011). "UK riots: supercop's battle order for tackling Britain's street gangs". The Daily Telegraph. London.
But in keeping with his desire to nip problems in the bud, he is clear that the repercussions for those who step out of line must be severe, especially among younger offenders. 'Very early on in people's lives you have to have them understand that abhorrent behaviour, anti-social behaviour, will not be tolerated,' he said.
- "University of Massachusetts Boston". www.umb.edu. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
- "With Subway Crime Up, Transit Police Get a New Chief". The New York Times. April 2, 1990.
- "Transcript". This American Life. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- "THE BRATTON RESIGNATION: BEHIND THE SCENES;Squabbling Behind the Amicable Departure". The New York Times. March 27, 1996.
- 'The Bratton Resignation' – New York Times
- Kroll Associates' LAPD page
- "Police Commission Letter to Mayor Hahn Recommending Three Finalists: William Bratton, Art Lopez, John Timoney". Los Angeles Community Policing. September 19, 2002. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- "Bratton Out of Town for a Third of '05" – Los Angeles Times March 11, 2006
- 'Third term for LAPD chief? Councilman seeks hearings' – Los Angeles Times
- "LAPD Chief Bratton Honored by Queen Elizabeth II". LAPD Blog. September 11, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- Lawless, Jill (August 12, 2011). "Thousands of police patrol Britain's streets, nearly 600 charged in riots". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
- Whitehead, Tom (August 5, 2011). "David Cameron's US 'supercop' blocked by Theresa May". Daily Telegraph. London.
- "Oakland hires former Los Angeles police chief as consultant". ABC7 San Francisco. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- Kuruvila, Matthai (January 23, 2013). "Oakland hires police consultant Bratton". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Goodman, J. David; Goldstein, Joseph (January 2, 2014). "Bratton Takes Helm of Police Force He Pledged to Change". The New York Times.
- "BlueLine Wants to Be a Facebook for Cops". Mashable. October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- 'LAPD Chief William Bratton to Resign', KTLA 5 Los Angeles
- "Secretary Napolitano Swears in Homeland Security Advisory Council Members". United States Department of Homeland Security. October 18, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- "Mission Ready Announces Appointment of Former NYPD Commissioner to Board of Directors". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- "'Zero tolerance' advice to PM". Sydney Morning Herald. August 14, 2011.
- William Bratton, George Kelling (December 2014). "Why we need Broken Windows policing". City Journal. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
- "Bill Bratton seeks good community relations to make stop-and-frisk work". The Guardian. December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
- Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic
- The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing
- "Roger Williams University to Confer more than 1000 Degrees in 2010 Commencement". Roger Williams University. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)