William J. Bratton, named New York City's new Police Commissioner by Bill de Blasio, will be in charge of fulfilling a key campaign promise made by his boss: ending the controversial "stop-and-frisk" police tactic. But Bratton - returning to the job he held under Rudolph Giuliani – has said the tactic is a fundamental tool of policing. the New Yorker reported Friday
"It's a basic, fundamental tool of police work in the whole country. If you do away with stop-and-frisk, this city will go down the chute as fast as anything you can imagine," Bratton said.
Noted lawyer Jeffrey Toobin interviewed Bratton as part of a New Yorker profile in May on federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who presided over the class action suit that challenged the NYPD stop-and-frisk program.
Bratton emphatically endorsed stop-and-frisk as a police tactic, Toobin says.
"Stop-and-frisk is such a basic tool of policing. It’s one of the most fundamental practices in American policing. If cops are not doing stop-and-frisk, they are not doing their jobs," said Bratton.
This is Bratton's second tour as the Big Apple's top cop. He served under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the 1990s.
Bratton specifically addressed the stop-and-frisk policy under outgoing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
"What you have right now is a controversy in which nobody really understands what they are fighting about. Stop-and-frisk is not a tool solely to look for guns. Unfortunately, both the Mayor [Michael Bloomberg] and the Police Commissioner refer to it that way, and that’s a problem because so few guns are recovered.
"But so what? The vast majority of stops are for a wide variety of things. Is someone drinking a can of beer on the corner? You want to stop that behavior. If somebody is aggressively panhandling on the street, urinating against a building. Is there somebody that you suspect is casing a building? Or is that two guys just locked out of their apartment? Police officers notice what may be a burglary. Of course they should be noticing and investigating. There are countless examples of what you want police to do."
Bratton tempered his remarks on Thursday. He reiterated his support for stop-and-frisk but has likened it to chemotherapy, saying that it must be utilized in proper doses.
"We have a situation in this city at this time that is so unfortunate," Bratton said. "At a time when police and community should be so much closer together, that there should be a bond of legitimacy and trust between them, it's not the case in so many communities in this city. It's unfortunate. But it can be corrected."
AP contributed to this report.
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