This is a developing story.
New York police commissioner Bill Bratton is stepping down next month, according to ABC News. It’s a surprising move, since Bratton was expected to stay in his position until New York’s mayoral election in 2017, city officials told the network.
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced Bratton’s retirement in a press conference today. He’ll be replaced by James O’Neill, the current NYPD chief, and move on to a job in the private sector, according to The New York Times (paywall).
At the press conference, De Blasio touted both Bratton’s record and O’Neill’s qualifications. He said that New Yorkers “remember what the past used to be like” when crime was high, and that “Bratton changed that for all of us,” referring to lower crime in the city.
The announcement comes after protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement yesterday occupied a park by New York’s City Hall, demanding Bratton’s resignation. The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall), however, that the commissioner told de Blasio about the decision last week.
“We’re here to decolonialize and to liberate our territory and our land from these racist occupiers,” Vienna Rye, one of the organizers from the group Millions March NYC told The Guardian. The protesters, who called Bratton the “supercop of America” were prepared for a long encampment. “I have no concern about being fired by this mayor at this time,” Bratton said yesterday.
Bratton, 68, is perhaps the most recognizable face of US policing, being the only person to have led both the New York Police Department—where he served as commissioner twice—and the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was chief. He also served as police commissioner in Boston.
He is best known for the crackdown on crime in New York in the 1990s during which he enacted the “broken windows” theory of policing—that zero tolerance for small “nuisance” offenses can lead to reductions in murders and other violent crimes. Civil-rights groups argue that broken windows disproportionately targets minorities, and the protesters camped outside City Hall called for it to be abolished.
More recently, Bratton has turned his attention to improving the relationship between police and minorities (paywall).