Former two-time city Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said New York “went too far, too fast” in approving laws aiding criminals and handcuffing cops and now faces “a long hot summer ahead.”
Bratton, who is promoting his new book, “The Profession”, said he was particularly troubled by left-leaning New York City mayoral candidates calling for gutting the police department during the “largest crime wave in 30 years.”
“We have the criminal justice reform movement on the left that in the case of New York City went too far, too fast. And that’s evident by some of the candidates in the race who are still talking about defunding the police, reducing the size of the New York police force in the middle of the largest crime wave in 30 years,” Bratton said in a Yahoo Finance interview, which he posted on his twitter account.
“Doesn’t make much sense I think to the average person.”
He didn’t mention candidates by name but former City Hall counsel Maya Wiley and not-for-profit executive Dianne Morales proposed reallocating funds from the police.
Bratton also didn’t mention the changes, but he was likely referring to the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s cuts to the police budget and bail reform approved by the legislature.
He predicted the increase in shootings and mayhem could worsen in the weeks ahead.
“We are going to basically have to grapple with a long hot summer ahead of us,” said Bratton.
Bratton said he was “skeptical” that shifting funds from police forces to social services agencies to help the mentally ill, the homeless, and the addicted would work because there won’t be an adequate amount to put a dent in those problems.
“The police will end up being the safety net for some time to come,” he predicted.
Bratton said the lessons from the past provide a roadmap to curb crime — but it won’t happen by slashing police budgets.
“It’s going to cost money. It’s going to have to be used for police overtime. Most departments are having trouble hiring to fill vacancies,” he said, citing the exodus of police officers “over the tensions of the past two years.”
The former top cop said there’s a “lot of pessimism” now but the crime crisis provides an opportunity to implement new and tried-and-true strategies to turn things around. He said that’s what happened in the 1990s, when data-driven policing helped dramatically reduce crime during his first stint as the NYPD commissioner.
“It reminds me of the 1990s all over again. But we got through the 90s, didn’t we,” he said.
Bratton said the city was probably in the best shape ever before the coronavirus pandemic hit last year and state legislature “got into the mix and messed it up.”
He defended qualified immunity for police officers who have to make split second decisions. Qualified immunity exempts cops from being individually liable to civil suits for wrongdoing.
While open to tweaks in the law, Bratton said eliminating immunity will make it harder to recruit new police officers.
“This is where the defunding movement is ridiculous,” said Bratton.
He said the focus should be on providing officers more training to reduce mistakes.