Commissioner Bill Bratton in Conversation with Preet Bharara
Legendary police professional Bill Bratton has heard it all.
Stop police brutality.
Hold violent cops accountable.
Say their names: Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd
Defund the police.
How does he respond?
When Bill Bratton walked his first patrol as a Boston cop, protestors had not yet taken to the streets chanting those slogans — and almost no one was talking publicly about the realities that provoked them. When he was appointed New York’s police commissioner by Rudy Giuliani a quarter of a century later, the simmering distrust between police and the community had not yet exploded. Reducing crime was his mandate, not curbing injustice.
By the time Bratton finished his second stint as the most famous police commissioner of modern times, he had overseen an almost unfathomable drop in crime and confronted racism in every police department along the way, and yet the relationship between law enforcement and the Black community was in fundamental crisis.
What went wrong? What could go right? He says, “Do Black lives matter? I’ve seen the dance some people do when asked that question. They won’t answer. They say ‘All lives matter.’ That is a meaningless evasion. Do Black lives matter? It’s a yes or no question.”
Upon the release of his new book, The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America, written with co-author Peter Knobler, Bill Bratton joins us to talk about the path – for good and for ill – of policing over the past fifty years, his storied career running the country’s highest-profile police forces, and rebuilding trust to ensure the future of law enforcement and its vital relationship to every community.
A 46-year veteran law enforcement officer, Bill Bratton served as Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, and two terms as New York City Police Commissioner. The author of two prior books – the autobiography Turnaround and the business procedural Collaborate or Perish! – he currently chairs the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council.
In conversation with Preet Bharara, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.