Michael Bloomberg's police commissioner, Ray Kelly, waited 63 days before sending police officers in riot gear to clear Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park back in 2011.
Bill Bratton, according to a former New York City official who talked to him afterward, said that if he were commissioner he would have "cleared them out right away."
(A spokesperson for Bill de Blasio, who yesterday announced that Bratton would be the new commissioner, did not confirm or deny the quote.)
Bratton, who was NYPD commissioner under Rudy Giuliani, has now been given a mandate to implement the more community-friendly police strategies that de Blasio promised during his spectacularly successful mayoral campaign. And he was presented by de Blasio on Thursday as a kindred spirit on policing theory.
But de Blasio supporters looking for the clean break from the Bloomberg administration the mayor-elect promised in the campaign, during which he also pledged to “end the stop-and-frisk era” in New York, may find Bratton's substantive views about police work to be remarkably similar to the current administration's.
Bratton's record in achieving low crime rates, like Kelly's, is well known. And in a series of speeches earlier this year which largely went unnoticed, he staked out unflinching support for the kind of aggressive, proactive policing he first used when he served as Rudy Giuliani’s first police commissioner from 1994-1996, and when he was the Los Angeles Police Commissioner from 2002 to 2009.
In June, at an event hosted by the Manhattan Institute, Bratton called stop-question-and-frisk “the most basic, fundamental and necessary tool of American policing. We cannot function effectively without it.”
Bratton has suggested that the department has gotten into trouble with its stop-and-frisk program because it's gotten "too small." The smaller NYPD can't assign cops to permanent beats where they could develop relationships with local residents and collaboratively work to reduce crime, Bratton said.
Instead, the NYPD flooded high-crime areas with rookie cops, who probably didn’t have proper supervision, leading to “huge numbers of stop-and-frisk” incidents. In Bratton’s view, the stop-and-frisk controversy “was created by a political decision to cut the size of the police force to try and meet budgetary needs with the justification that crime was down so dramatically.”
Make no mistake, Bratton will run the NYPD differently than Kelly did (as this Times article pointed out here), and putting an end to arrest, ticket and stop-and-frisk quotas would be an important step toward making this city less of a police state.
But de Blasio's pick of Bratton is a conservative one and shows for all his campaign rhetoric of breaking with Bloomberg's policies, he is looking to do more tweaking than breaking.
Given the Bratton pick for the NYPD, I wouldn't be surprised to see de Blasio pick former Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso for the DOE.
Just as Bratton is more of a change in tone and style than a change in policy from Kelly, Alonso is a testing-friendly, corporate-style education reformer with solid deformer credentials who nonetheless has a reputation for reaching out to all stakeholders and working respectfully with the teachers union.
Picking Alonso for chancellor would allow de Blasio to reassure the moneyed classes that the Bloomberg-style reforms they support aren't going away, they'll just be toned down, implemented with a little more subtlety.
One of the other rumored picks, Joshua Starr, might also fit that "tweak it without breaking it" bill.
Starr did call for a three year moratorium on high stakes testing accountability for schools and teachers, but not because he believes a test-based accountability system is bad for children.
Rather, he wants to give schools, administrators, teachers and children time to adjust to the CCSS and other changes wrought over the past few years before attaching high stakes to the "assessments."
A moratorium from state standardized tests tied to NCLB is necessary to allow school districts the opportunity to organize their systems to what we’re being asked to do now and in the future: prepare adults to engage students in much deeper learning so they will be equipped not just with the academic skills but with the problem-solving skills necessary to be globally competitive. We have to organize our systems to achieve this goal, which is incredibly difficult when we’re still being measured by an outdated model. In the interim, we can continue to measure ourselves by standard indicators of college and career readiness, such as SAT, Advanced Placement, and ACT tests and graduation rates. We could also use a nationally accepted criterion-based reading test to determine our current status, but not for high-stakes accountability purposes.
Once the CCSS is fully implemented and the new assessments aligned to these standards have been completed, we can begin to construct a meaningful accountability system that truly supports teaching and learning.
De Blasio, for all the shrill rhetoric from the NY Post, is no bomb-throwing Sandanista looking to turn New York City into Havana on the Hudson.
He's a corporatist politician in a corporatist political system who made his bones under the Great Triangulator, Bill Clinton, and maintains good relations with neo-liberal Andrew Cuomo.
Whichever candidate de Blasio picks for chancellor, whether it's Andres Alonso or one of the other rumored names like Kathleen Cashin or Joshua Starr, there is likely to be a change in the tone and style of how the school system is run, but not necessarily the policies.
The moneyed class that owns this city does not want the policies governing the police, the schools or anything else changing too much.
That doesn't mean a change in tone and style from the current administration won't be welcome.
I look forward to opening up the paper and not seeing the chancellor or the mayor calling teachers incompetent criminal pieces of shit every day.
But it is a far cry from the kind of change de Blasio called for during the campaign.
Of course, after seeing how "Change We Can Believe In" in 2008 morphed quickly to "same old same old," I never really believed de Blasio's campaign promises anyway.