After Theodore Roosevelt was the New York City police commissioner back in the 1890s and began walking the beat and yelling at corrupt cops, the role of commissioner hasn’t mattered all that much.
Take Ray Kelly, the man shoved out the door by Bill de Blasio as a dirty racist and fascist. But Kelly and Bill de Blasio both worked for the Dinkins administration and its “Have fun, commit crimes” policy.
Now Bill de Blasio is bringing back Bill Bratton… who was Giuliani’s police commissioner. Lefties are already blasting Bill de Blasio for all the usuals. But they’re wrong.
Yes, Bill Bratton has a pretty solid record. A bit more solid than Ray Kelly had. But it doesn’t really matter. Both men are pros and competent. They’ve both done time in hard core urban areas and they are up to code with the new computerized police tactics. You could easily swap a bunch of other people in their place. The crime stats would go up or down a little, but any number of reasonably competent appointees could hold the line.
What really matters is the will at the top. Giuliani embraced aggressive crimefighting. Bill de Blasio campaigned to end Stop and Frisk and mosque surveillance. Bringing in Bill Bratton is the lipstick on a pig. It’s meant to counter critics by wielding a Giuliani vet to defend stupid policies… which Bratton is on record as opposing. And it’s meant to avoid a complete meltdown by having a pro at the top of the department.
De Blasio and Bratton bulletproof each other against criticism.
I doubt this is a long-term relationship. Bill Bratton gets some liberal cred. And Bill de Blasio gets Bratton to cover for him. And then after a few years, Bratton takes a job in another city and De Blasio slots in someone he really wanted for this job. Meanwhile he will have found ways to begin really remaking the NYPD from a crime fighting organization to a social service organization with orders to avoid making arrests.
Bratton is competent enough, but being a police commissioner, like being a general, is a political gig. You don’t just do it because you care about fighting crime. You’re part of the political network. And you build your reputation by working with politicians, not by bucking them.
You’re not there to lead the cops. You’re there to tell them what the word from City Hall is.
It’s not about who the commish is. It’s about who the mayor is and what he stands for. Giuliani stood against crime. Bill de Blasio stands for criminals.