Spin and Control : As criticisms of Bratton grow, attention focuses on NYPD's media campaign


Outside Thursday evening's town hall meeting in Jackson Heights, Queens, critics of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) congregated on a public sidewalk alongside Public School 69, site of the mayor's community forum.

As reported in an article published by Progress Queens, the critics, who were not able to gain entry to the town hall, discussed many issues about Mayor de Blasio's administration that they found unacceptable.

One such issue, about Mayor de Blasio's brief but failed attempt to bring reforms to the troubled police department, led, instead, to criticism of New York Police Department commissioner William Bratton.  

Although the media has primarily focused on the political pressure facing Mayor de Blasio from advocates for police reform and supporters of the NYPD, the media narrative has largely ignored how Commissioner Bratton has managed to keep news about police misconduct out of the press with much better success than the police commissioners of former mayors Michael Bloomberg (R-New York City) and Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York City).

Once in a while, criticisms by police reform activists about Commissioner Bratton do make it into the press, like when Leonard Levitt wrote in amNewYork that Commissioner Bratton spins minute drops in crime statistics to his political advantage.  Other times, when reform activists have claimed that Commissioner Bratton may be providing false testimony under oath about the police use of force, those charges can appear as blips in The New York Times, as it did in one article, before such controversies get summarily swept under the rug by politically-motivated firings of whistleblowers.  

A few weeks after that one article in The New York Times raised questions about Commissioner Bratton credibility and character, the same reporter at The New York Times accepted as fact Commissioner Bratton's characterisation of the problem of police misconduct at the NYPD as not a systemic issue and, instead, only limited to a few bad apples.  Despite questions having been raised about the credibility of Commissioner Bratton's testimony under oath, The New York Times still found Commissioner Bratton's official statements about the NYPD to be believable enough for publication, notwithstanding the fact that for years police reform activists have claimed that the NYPD does not discipline, nor dismiss, police officers, who have engaged in corruption, misconduct, or excessive force, including the commission of officer-involved homicides, like in the Eric Garner case.

Hours before Mayor de Blasio's town hall meeting was set to begin in Jackson Heights on Thursday evening, the Hon. New York State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Nuñez denounced a "false narrative" being constructed in the press, in part, by Commissioner Bratton that cast aspersions upon criminal court judges for failures that should, instead, rightly be placed on ineffective municipal policies that fail to provide addiction treatment to repeat, nonviolent drug offenders, the Hon. Justice Nuñez said.

“Shame on those politicians who now point fingers and try to blame the judges for a program that they themselves wanted,” the Hon. Judge Nuñez said, including Mayor de Blasio in her reference, according to a report published by The New York Times.

A request made by Progress Queens for an interview with the NYPD's office of the deputy commissioner for public information was not answered.