Friday, December 13, 2013

137.4 - Outrage of the Week: Bill Bratton for NYC police commissioner

Outrage of the Week: Bill Bratton for NYC police commissioner

So, all the liberals were all excited when Democrat Bill de Blasio won election as mayor of New York City in a runaway in what was widely seen as a rejection of the right-wing, pander-to-the-rich policies of Michael Bloomberg.

One of the things de Blasio campaigned on was criticizing the city's notorious, racist, and unconstitutional "stop-and-frisk" policy. I've talked about this several times before; it's a policy which in the name of fighting crime served mostly as a means to empower police to harass young black and Hispanic males. well, de Blasio was strong enough on the issue that he specifically pledged if elected to drop the city's appeal of a court ruling putting restraints and independent oversight on the practice.

So why in heaven's name has he chosen as his new police commissioner one Bill Bratton, the man who practically invented stop-and-frisk and who as top cop under Rudy Giuliani in the mid-1990s brought the practice to New York in the first place? This simply makes no sense.

The big excuse is that Bratton has "a stellar record of lowering crime rates" and was a "legend" during his time in New York on just that basis.

Frankly, that's just a bunch of BS and PR. Check out this graph. Unfortunately, the text doesn't show up so I have to explain it to you.

It's a graph of the rate of violent crime in New York City over time. The vertical axis is the crime rate, the horizontal axis is time. The period of time is from 1985 on the left to 2012 on the right. The alternate lighter and darker areas represent the times that various people were police commissioner in New York over that period. The darkest bar, in the middle, is Bratton's time.

Here's the thing: Notice that the record shows very clearly that the steep drop in violent crime began well before Bratton came on board, which was in 1994 - in fact, it began in 1990, four years earlier, which is when that line began to decline, and that drop continued for more than 10 years after he left. Meanwhile, in other large cities with violent crime rates comparable to New York's, the drop in violent crime over that same period followed much the same trend.

Crediting Bratton - crediting his police-state policies - with reducing violent crime is a lie. So why did de Blasio pick him?

Another claim is that after running a "far left" campaign, de Blasio needs to "reassure" more "centrist" New Yorkers and picking Bratton will do that, which at least has some plausibility - but why someone who won election with, this is not a mistake, over 73% of the vote would feel the need to immediately turn his back on the people who voted for him in order to placate those who didn't and never will is, I must admit, a mystery to me.

So here's what I think is the real reason: Bratton believes in what's called the “broken windows” theory of policing, under which cops focus on the petty stuff, the graffitti-painters, the turnstile-jumpers, the pot smokers, under the odd notion that if you do that, things like rape and armed robbery and murder will all just go away on their own. The practice will produce impressive arrest totals - but its efficacy in reducing violent crime is let's just say questionable.

But Bratton believes in it - and, according to his own words, so does Bill de Blasio, even though the “broken windows” theory is what underlies the whole notion of, is the whole logic behind, stop-and-frisk, the policy he pledged to dramatically reform.

So I think what de Blasio is after is a "kinder and gentler" stop-and-frisk, one that can continue the pattern but without the bad PR. Something Bratton was successful in during his term as top cop in Los Angeles was “freeing” - Bratton's word - the LAPD from a federally-imposed consent decree about its bigoted practices despite have overseen an expansion in the use of stop-and-frisk there and a 17 percent increase in the use of non-lethal force in the predominately black Central Bureau of the city. I imagine de Blasio is hoping for the same thing in New York about the court order on stop-and-frisk.

One person commenting on all this said that the choice of Bratton is "potentially troubling." I call that a masterpiece of understatement and the selection of Bratton an outrage.


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