Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called for stronger ties between police and the community during a speech in Jamaica on Tuesday, when he outlined plans for greater collaboration and alternatives to making arrests for first-time minor crimes while also recognizing law enforcement’s role in “many of the worst parts of black history.”
At a Black History Month event at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, he said that the NYPD has made tremendous strides with regards to crime prevention but that there is always room for improvement. He said that new programs started by himself and Mayor de Blasio will help to do so and will have a “dynamic effect on the level and quality of policing.”
“Despite our accomplishments we’ve made in the past years, police actions can still be a flashpoint,” said Bratton. “The NYPD needs to face the hard truth [that] in our most vulnerable neighborhoods we have a problem with citizen satisfaction.”
Bratton mentioned some of these “hard truths” that the police have to realize and deal with. He said that “many of the worst parts of black history would not have been possible without police,” citing law enforcement’s role dating back to the days of slavery.
Bratton said that not recognizing this as an issue would not only be naive but reckless and irresponsible.
But he also mentioned that “far more often than not, many of the best parts of America’s history wouldn’t have been possible without police,” saying they are the protectors of such freedoms like those of speech and religion.
When asked about going back to community policing, a method that was scrutinized in the early ’90s for not being effective against historically high crime rates, Bratton simply replied that he doesn’t think the NYPD has ever gotten away from the strategy. He described the policing method using three “P’s” that he said the NYPD still practice today: partnership, problem solving and prevention.
The commissioner finished by saying that ultimately, policing is a shared responsibility: having the police and community work together will ultimately lead to a better and safer New York City.
“We cannot change the past but working together we can change our future,” Bratton said. “We all need to work together. All of us.”