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Bratton: NYPD, communities need mutual respect

William J. Bratton attends a press conference in

William J. Bratton attends a press conference in which Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio announced that Bratton is to serve as New York City's next Police Commissioner in Brooklyn. (Dec. 5, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

New NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Thursday pledged to usher in a new era of collaboration and respect between police and communities as he tries to continue the historic drop in crime.

"We will all work hard to identify why so many in this city do not feel good about this department," Bratton said after Mayor Bill de Blasio swore him in as New York's 42nd police commissioner.

Bratton embraced de Blasio's promised reform of the stop-and-frisk practice, which his predecessor Ray Kelly credited for reducing crime but has drawn bitter complaints of racial profiling.

"I think we can find the right amount, where we have a safe city and communities and police which respect each other," Bratton told some 800 law enforcement officials, NYPD brass and police officers assembled at police headquarters as de Blasio looked on.

"My commitment and the commitment of the NYPD that I am privileged to lead will be to work with you and to ensure that at all times, policing in this city is done constitutionally, respectfully and compassionately," he said with a glance toward de Blasio.

Bratton, 66, was officially sworn in at 12:01 a.m. on New Year's Day. Yesterday's ceremony served as a platform for Bratton and de Blasio to sketch how the department would change under new leadership.

Bratton was Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani's first commissioner two decades ago. He choked up slightly as he remembered his late close friend and colleague Jack Maple, who served as his key deputy commissioner in the Giuliani era and is widely credited with instituting the NYPD's CompStat data system to analyze crime patterns. "He was so a part of my being here last time," said Bratton about Maples.

He also accepted part of the blame for his falling-out with Giuliani, who was irritated with Bratton's self-promotion to the media. "I understand more fully the importance of working collaboratively together," he said.

While they differ on stop-and-frisk, he saluted for nearly three minutes Kelly's achievements.

"Over these 12 years he has committed himself to keeping this city safe. He has in fact done that," noted Bratton. "I do applaud and understand the shoes I am stepping into."

Bratton also noted Kelly left him a bottle of champagne in the office with a note: "Happy New Year. Good Luck."

At a news conference with de Blasio, Bratton explained that he wanted to make sure stop-and-frisk was done constitutionally and that right now, with the possibility of a federal court monitor and a new inspector general overlooking NYPD practices, police were unsure of what to do.

Better training will help make sure police act responsibly, explained Bratton.

The mayor and his commissioner indicated there could be a settlement to a federal-court case on stop-and-frisk that resolves whether a monitor is needed.

De Blasio and Bratton said they planned to expand anti-gang programs and make traffic enforcement a priority. Bratton also indicated he would keep much of the intelligence- gathering capability of the NYPD in its counterterrorism program, assuring it would be done constitutionally.

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