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Know Your Rights
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Bratton Plans for Policing New York City Taking Shape

‘Collaborative Policing’ Is Term Often Used by Incoming Commissioner.

As he left a Dec. 12 meeting with some of the New York Police Department’s most fervent critics, William Bratton used a term that he says will define his strategy as commissioner: “collaborative policing.”

It sounds like a buzz phrase, and it is to some extent for Mr. Bratton. In 2012, he co-wrote a book called “Collaborate or Perish!” detailing how organizations from pharmaceutical companies to police departments have benefited from working together.

Mr. Bratton has also used the word “collaborate” often in two other recent public appearances: at the news conference when Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed him commissioner on Dec. 5, and days later at a Harlem ceremony remembering Nelson Mandela hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Taken together, Mr. Bratton’s public comments offer a peek into what collaborative policing means for him and the communities he is tasked with protecting once he takes office Jan 1.

The Dec. 12 meeting, organized by Mr. de Blasio’s transition team and held at a Midtown law firm, brought together Mr. Bratton and leaders of some religious and community groups who have said their relationship with the NYPD has been strained due to stop and frisk and the surveillance of mosques.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Bratton described “collaborative policing” as a tactic where the police department brokers a personal relationship with religious, cultural and neighborhood organizations—along with individual residents—as a way to prevent crime.

To do that, he said, the NYPD will ramp up victim services and become more involved with young people at risk of turning to crime. These are efforts, he added, that have been neglected by a “city that has been so focused on crime reduction and terrorism prevention.” The de Blasio transition team declined to elaborate on those initiatives, and Mr. Bratton declined to comment for this article.

Mr. Bratton has said he also plans to target quality-of-life issues that have immediate, everyday effects on city residents, such as aggressive subway panhandling and reducing the number of pedestrians killed by motorists on the streets.

The goal, according to Mr. Bratton’s working document on collaborative policing, is to have officers and residents of the areas they serve identifying problems together and addressing people who bring crime into the neighborhoods. The aim is to bring “more sharing of information, better leads” and more trust between police and people, said Lis Smith, the de Blasio transition spokeswoman.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly, in a recent interview, said the police department has “the best relations with the community that we have ever had in my almost 45 years with the department. That’s contrary to the narrative that is being put out there.”

During Mr. Kelly’s tenure, there were dramatic reductions in crime and no successful terrorist attacks in New York since Sept. 11, 2001. His spokesman declined to comment for this article.

Experts who have followed the career of Mr. Bratton, 66 years old, and the NYPD said past incoming commissioners have also said they would combine traditional policing with community relations. Eventually, those experts said, traditional policing has won out.

The idea of collaborative policing is “a good gesture,” said Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I am still concerned that it will be more gesture than substance. I think the first 100 days will tell just how much of a gesture it was.”

Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Mr. Bratton appears to be using the term as an olive branch to activists who feel the NYPD under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly unfairly targeted minority communities.

“He’s a very effective phrase maker who can capture big ideas and communicate them clearly. The phrase collaborative policing means the police department reaching outside of itself and working with others,” he said.

Mr. Bratton has pointed to instances in his career to establish his credentials as a collaborator. He has said he canceled a program to document where Muslims live in Los Angeles while he was police commissioner there after community backlash.

Those at the hour-long meeting on Dec. 12 said Mr. Bratton mentioned “collaborative policing” often—and thought it was a phrase he used to distinguish himself from his predecessor.

“He was very direct that he intends to go in a very different way than the previous commissioner,” said Kirsten John Foy, president of the Brooklyn chapter of the National Action Network, who was at the meeting.

“It’s about engaging the public in constructive ways, creating venues about where we can have input,” said Mr. Foy, who was a senior aide to Mr. de Blasio when he was public advocate. “It’s not just placating. It’s an actual process of engagement.”

Others at the meeting believe Mr. Bratton took a good first step, but said they are adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Javier Valdes, executive director of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for Latinos, said he would like to see changes in the “Broken Windows” policing policy that Mr. Bratton used to drive down crime rates in his first run as commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s.

The practice—embraced by Mr. de Blasio—focuses police efforts on enforcing quality-of-life issues, such as targeting graffiti.

“We raised the concern about how it was implemented,” Mr. Valdes said. “It targets most vulnerable New Yorkers and most of them don’t have the resources to deal with the penalties.”

Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association and a critic of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims, said she was encouraged by the meeting, though: “I am not exactly sure what that means until it’s actually implemented.”

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