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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton defends his crime-fighting efforts, dismisses critics, poll

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton discusses crime

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton discusses crime statistics and more at a press conference at Police Plaza in Manhattan on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Credit: Bryan Smith

With the help of large graphics showing more than two decades of falling crime rates, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Thursday brushed aside both his sagging poll numbers and a police union's prediction of a breakdown in law and order.

Bratton said he paid little attention to the poll or barbs from police union leaders. He also said quality-of-life crime prevention -- a point of criticism among some community activists -- will continue.

"I am police commissioner of the City of New York, I am not an elected official, so polls relative to my popularity . . . aren't really of any great consequence to me," Bratton said of the latest Quinnipiac University poll detailing his shrinking popularity.

The poll released Tuesday showed that only 48 percent of voters approved of the job Bratton was doing, down from 57 percent in June.

The numbers were released just weeks after the July 17 death in Staten Island of Eric Garner after an officer put him in a banned chokehold. Garner's death sparked a furor about police tactics, including the quality-of-life enforcement efforts.

Garner, 43, had been suspected numerous times of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, police said. Bratton noted that so far this year, serious felonies are down by almost 4 percent citywide and down 14.2 percent in the subways.

Murders were also on track to sink to the lowest level in the modern era of policing, Bratton predicted, while acknowledging that shootings still remain about 9 percent higher than a year ago.

The crime data were used by Bratton to assail news stories and critics such as Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. The union took out newspaper ads this week asking the Democratic National Committee not to hold its 2016 convention in the city because of low police morale and more crime.

"In terms of the terror some in the media are trying to create . . . one squeegee pest is not an invasion . . . Elmo problems in Times Square -- we are not being overrun by Elmos," Bratton said.

Mullins responded that Bratton works for Mayor Bill de Blasio and that city policies are creating the "perception the city is going to slide back to the days of old" with a lot of crime going unreported.

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