What next for the NYPD?
This week’s surprise news that Commissioner William Bratton is stepping down, earlier than expected, comes as the nation’s largest police force is in desperate need of a restart. An ugly political favors scandal continues to swirl around the department, costing the badges of a number of top cops and showing no signs of going away. That’s been happening even as tensions rise between the NYPD and African-American New Yorkers, who continue to report unfair treatment by the police. As recently as Monday, on the eve of Bratton’s announcement, a group of protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement was settling in at City Hall park, promising an Occupy-style sit-in and demanding Bratton’s resignation. And while crime rates remain low in the city, the murder rate has slowly crept up, feeding fears that the city could start to slide back to the bad old days.
In many ways, Bratton has been a steady presence, avoiding the provocations of his predecessor, and vowing to end the policies that sowed so much anger in the city. But the tensions go deeper than any one man, and the healing that’s needed here will take much longer than the tenure of one commissioner or one mayor. (Or even is it contained to one city, as we’ve seen in Dallas and Baton Rouge and elsewhere.)
Bratton is turning over the reigns to James O’Neill, the NYPD’s chief of department and a veteran of the force. We, of course, wish him well. But we also fear there is still a long way to go in healing our wounds.