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NYPD’s Bill Bratton praised by allies, faulted by activists

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton attends a news conference

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton attends a news conference at City Hall in Manhattan during which his retirement was announced, Tuesday, August 2, 2016. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Outgoing NYPD Commissioner William Bratton got high marks Tuesday from his law enforcement colleagues, but mixed reviews from civil liberties and civil rights activists.

“Commissioner Bratton leaves behind a complicated legacy,” the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement.

“While he started the NYPD down the road to curbing its worst stop-and-frisk excesses and abuse, he is also the architect of broken windows policing, which has caused similar harms to many of the same communities,” the center said.

The head of the Police Executive Research Forum, which promotes professionalism among police leaders, said Bratton had been a powerful influence on policing in America.

“His legacy: optimism that cops make a difference,” forum director Charles Wexler said in a Twitter message.

The main city police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, thanked Bratton “for his service to New York City during a very challenging period for this NYPD and its members.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who clashed with Bratton during the commissioner’s current tenure as well as his stint under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 1994 to 1996, said he had “mixed feelings” about the departure.

The civil rights leader applauded the curbing of stop-and-frisk, but condemned the so-called broken windows strategy of targeting low-level crime.

State Assemb. Michael Blake (D-Bronx), who filed a complaint against the NYPD after an incident Saturday in which he said he was roughly handled by an officer because he is black, said his interactions with incoming Commissioner James O’Neill had been positive.

“We as leaders have to come together; the anger, the frustration, the divisiveness that exists right now on both sides is real,” Blake said, “but this is our opportunity to really transform something into a much better path.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Bratton’s resignation caught him by surprise. “I’ve known him a long time. He is a great, great public servant, great police commissioner and he brought credibility to the position as well as competence,” the governor said.

In a statement, FBI Director James Comey said: “Bill Bratton is a giant of law enforcement, who has devoted decades to keeping the American people safe. He will be sorely missed; fortunately for all of us, he leaves behind not only safer cities, but also a legacy of great law enforcement leaders inspired by his example.”

As Bratton left City Hall after announcing his resignation, he was jeered by protesters outside.

Councilwoman Inez Barron, a Brooklyn Democrat, said she was, “glad he’s gone...and we’re looking now to make sure the policies change.”

A poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University showed New Yorkers approved of Bratton’s job performance, 57 percent to 32 percent.

However, 72 percent of city voters thought police corruption was a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of Manhattan, who has been investigating corruption in the NYPD, said Bratton had been “a great leader of the finest police force in the world.”

In June, Bharara unsealed corruption charges against four NYPD officers and two businessmen linked to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The indictment charged that high-ranking police officials got payoffs and prostitutes to provide help that ranged from gun licenses and police escorts to closing a Lincoln Tunnel lane to speed the trip of an associate.

— With Emily Ngo and Alison Fox

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