NYPD chief William Bratton reassures police on stop, frisk change

NYPD head Bill Bratton speaks to the meida

NYPD head Bill Bratton speaks to the meida after a promotion ceremony at One Police Plaza in Manhattan on Jan. 31, 2014. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Friday continued to assure police rank and file that he had their backs, telling them at his first promotion ceremony that he wanted to remove the uncertainty caused by the stop-and-risk controversy and the change of administration at City Hall.

"My challenge, and the challenge of those I have the privilege of working with, is to remove those uncertainties, to get the department back into the position where we can do as it has done over two decades, make this the safest large city in the world," Bratton told an assembly of police officers and their families at NYPD headquarters.

Bratton didn't directly criticize his predecessor Ray Kelly, under whose leadership serious crime dropped to historic low levels in the city. But he noted that the stop-and-frisk practices, which were a central part of Kelly's tenure, had been divisive, creating a gap between police and some minority communities.

"I am committed as we move forward, to work with you," Bratton told the group. Bratton stressed that he wanted to do all he could through training, equipment and leadership to make sure officers were safe on the streets.

During the promotion ceremony, Bratton said he wanted to cooperate with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the main police union, as the NYPD grapples with a proposed settlement of a federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit.

Michael Palladino, head of the Detective Endowment Association, said Bratton is clearly taking a collaborative approach.

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"Commissioner Bratton's message was crystal-clear: The department will be very vigilant against crime and terrorism and at the same time must forge a new trust and confidence with the communities," Palladino said.

Bratton told reporters he planned to keep and expand Operation Impact, the practice started by Kelly of sending extra officers to high-crime areas. But he planned changes that involved sending new police officers into precincts so they could learn the ropes from seasoned officers and be better at fighting crime and knowing how to handle themselves on the street.

What "I am really interested in is giving these men and women a more broadly based experience, not just enforcement," Bratton said about his training plans.

Bratton noted that in his first month homicides were above last year's record low pace but said that overall serious crimes were down about 5 percent from 2013.

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