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Bratton offers his take on Suffolk police leadership

Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton,

Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, a longtime Hampton Bays resident, talks about Suffolk's options for its next top cop. Credit: Charles Eckert

Daily Point

Suffolk's next cop must pick the team

Bill Bratton’s famed law-enforcement career includes leadership of the Boston and Los Angeles police departments — bracketed by separate tenures in the NYPD two decades apart under dramatically different mayoralties and circumstances.

As a full-time Hampton Bays resident for the past nine years, the 73-year-old Bratton says he’s stayed generally familiar with the recent high-profile trials, tribulations and scandals in Suffolk County law enforcement, as well as the day-to-day work of police in the towns and villages.

The Point asked Bratton how he’d approach the county’s selection of a new police commissioner to succeed Geraldine Hart, who recently departed after three years on the job.

Bratton offered a general frame of considerations for the pick that County Executive Steve Bellone will need to make. "You go outside often times in a scandal," he said. "In Suffolk, they went with the FBI person — a very good pick. She did a great job while there."

Should Hart’s successor be from a different or even distant department? Officials "have to look at the condition of the problem now," Bratton said, to assess which might work better.

"The benefit of an outsider is that there is no allegiance to anybody within the department," he said — but also, an outsider "needs time to get up to speed."

Either way, Bratton said, "What’s critical to their success is the ability to pick their own team." That could mean building that team from within or bringing in expertise that might not already be there.

Overall, Bratton, the author most recently with writer Peter Knobler of "The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America," emphasizes how policing strategies must constantly adapt to events and trends. He likes to tweak the lecture in the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" where salesmen are told, "ABC, Always be closing."

Policing anywhere, he says, is "ABR — always be reforming."

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Talking Point

Garbarino's border trip an eye-opener

Look no further than Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent border trip — and GOP criticism that it took so long — for an indication of how hot the topic of immigration will be for the congressional midterms in 2022.

One of Harris’ critics on that front was Rep. Andrew Garbarino, who tweeted about his own trip to the border and the "crisis" under Harris and President Joe Biden’s watch.

Garbarino’s neighboring congressman, Tom Suozzi, also visited the border this year, but the rest of the Long Island delegation hasn’t been there recently. The Point asked Garbarino for his take-aways from the May trip sponsored by the Republican Main Street Partnership, which included:

  • His support for keeping in place Title 42, the public health rule under which border agents have been turning away most migrants in the name of coronavirus caution. The Biden administration has hinted that it will lift the provision, invoked by former President Donald Trump during the pandemic. Garbarino notes that cases are still high elsewhere in the world.
  • The need he cited for a wall plus technology to secure the border and find contraband at official border crossings. "I think they’re 100% wrong by stopping the wall," he said. "Having that physical barrier with the technology really helps the border agents who are so thinly spread do their job."
  • The "awful" conditions he said migrants had to go through to reach the U.S. In a Border Patrol facility in El Paso, the Bayport Republican said he met a 14-year-old girl who journeyed for weeks from Guatemala with her 7-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew. "God knows what some of them had to endure on the way up," he said. He has introduced legislation addressing placement procedures for unaccompanied minors like these.

So how do all the border trips, observations, and politics play out in broader congressional policy? Immigration and the border is hardly a new issue, as fellow-border-visitor and Problem Solvers Caucus-member Suozzi points out.

"It requires a bipartisan approach with enhanced border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS recipients and a path to legalization for other long term residents," Suozzi said in a text message. "I worked on a grand compromise with Andrew’s predecessor (Pete King), but unfortunately Mitch McConnell and others have always been a roadblock."

Garbarino, for his part, nods at some of the big-picture geopolitical issues driving immigration that Democrats like Harris have also been highlighting.

Migrants are "making this trip because they think life here’s going to be better than where they are at home," Garbarino said. "So we need to help them make their lives better at home."

Legislatively, he supports an immigration fix done in pieces to gather support.

"The debate right now, I think, is: Can you do it in one big bill?" he asked, "or is it smarter to do it in six smaller bills where all of a sudden you can get that bipartisan group of people?"

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Crime wave

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Final Point

What's the right read on the NYC mayoral?

With NYC’s primary votes more or less counted, the real contest in take-town begins: breathlessly deciding what the votes cast by around a million Democratic city voters really mean.

One take is the one presented by Democratic mayoral primary winner Eric Adams himself: that he is the "face of the new Democratic Party."

In this telling, voters logged a centrist or center-left preference on June 22, opting for a former Republican and NYPD captain who has worked on police reform issues but also focused repeatedly on public safety. The second-place candidate after ranked choice voting was Kathryn Garcia, a lauded manager and city bureaucrat who diverged from the left wing on issues like policing and education. Maya Wiley, the former MSNBC contributor, came in third — despite being the choices of Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both NYC contenders in their own right to be the face of the party.

This reading suggests that NYC voters — including working-class and distant-outerborough ones — were focused on competence and crime and declined to go for the kinds of farthest-left candidates who have blossomed recently in City Council and congressional races along or near the city’s gentrification belt.

But this reading works less well to explain the other competitive citywide primary on the ballot — comptroller, won by lefty Brooklyn City Councilman Brad Lander, a co-founder of the council’s Progressive Caucus.

Comptroller is a less prominent role than mayor and voters may not have given it as much thought. But the divergence — a centrist win vs. a progressive one — suggests an alternate reading of the citywide results.

Both Lander and Adams had been campaigning officially or unofficially for years, and thus had a head start on other high-profile challengers like Andrew Yang and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Lander and Adams were well-known political figures with long backgrounds in electoral politics who ran relatively disciplined campaigns, any of which could have explained their wins.

And there were other factors in the mayoral race that foiled progressives beyond a potential centrist upsurge. Multiple left-leaning candidates ran and declined to make real alliances through the ranked choice system. That split the field, which Adams only won narrowly. Allegations of sexual misconduct cratered Comptroller Scott Stringer’s campaign and removed a long-campaigning, well-known opponent from real contention. And newspaper endorsements — particularly that of the New York Times, which chose Garcia — seemed to hold significant sway this year with a wide field and a brand new election system.

That’s a less-sweeping reading but one that gives hope to hardworking candidates across the Democratic spectrum.

Cue midterm season.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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