Bratton again indicates he will retire from NYPD, this time under cloud of corruption scandal


Updated 26 July 2016 6:30 p.m.New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton for the second time in the last year indicated that he will not lead the municipal police force into any second term in office won by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City).

Mayor de Blasio is expected to campaign for a second term in Gracie Mansion in November 2017, and he long ago incorporated, and has been raising funds to benefit, a committee to reëlect for such purpose.

"There's never a good time to leave something that you love doing, but there's a right time," Commissioner Bratton said on Monday, according to a report filed by the journalist Stephen Nessen and broadcast on the public radio station, WNYC 93.9 FM.

Commissioner Bratton first publicly indicated that he would not serve into any second term in office won by Mayor de Blasio in July 2015, according to a report filed by Murray Weiss for the news Web site, DNAinfo New York. At the time of the making of that first announcement, it was not publicly known that the career Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district or that agents with the public corruption unit of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were probing the NYPD as part of a wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation into the de Blasio administration. Indeed, at the time of the making of that first announcement, Commissioner Bratton withheld that material information from the public, offering no hint that top brass at the NYPD were under Federal corruption investigation and would eventually resign in disgrace or face arrest on Federal corruption charges, as was publicly announced one year later, in June 2016.

At a press conference on 20 June 2016, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the first time announced criminal charges against some top commanders of the NYPD. At that time then, U.S. Attorney Bharara sought to reassure the public about the integrity of the delivery of police services as a result of his prosecutorial actions. However, U.S. Attorney spoke in general terms, and he made no specific reference to the integrity in the selection process that determined the leadership of the NYPD.

Information about the Government's case against Jeremy Reichberg, a key de Blasio political supporter, who was named in the tripe-defendant criminal complaint, have included claims made by Mr. Reichberg that he possessed sufficient political influence to determine who could be selected to serve as commissioner of the NYPD, according to a report filed by Mr. Weiss for DNAinfo New York.

Despite efforts to restore public faith in the NYPD, the office of U.S. Attorney Bharara would not answer a question posed by Progress Queens, requesting that U.S. Attorney Bharara assure the public that no corrupting influence was exerted to select Commissioner Bratton to lead the NYPD.

In the time since some details became public about the reported Federal corruption probe of the NYPD, each of Commissioner Bratton and former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly have sought to burnish their public images by appearing with U.S. Attorney Bharara. Allegations of misconduct and corruption can be reportedly traced to when former NYPD Commissioner Kelly was at the helm of the police force.

At a 13 July 2016 public speaking engagement held by U.S. Attorney Bharara for the Reuters news service, both Commissioner Bratton and former Commissioner Kelly posed for a photograph with U.S. Attorney Bharara, lending the impression of an endorsement by U.S. Attorney Bharara of the careers of Commissioner Bratton and former NYPD Commissioner Kelly.

The extent to which Commissioner Bratton is retiring voluntarily is not known. The office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at the NYPD would not answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for comment for this report.

In the past, grassroots community activists have first opposed Commissioner Bratton's return to the top leadership post at the NYPD and then later demanded that he resign in the wake of each of the officer-involved killing record of NYPD officers and the reported, wide-ranging Federal corruption investigation of the NYPD.

As reported by Progress Queens, New York City has lagged other major metropolitan cities in holding the leadership of municipal police departments accountable for misconduct and corruption. In December 2015, advocates for police reform and political accountability, for example, forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) to secure the resignation of Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Superintendent McCarthy resigned in the wake of the police officer-involved shooting and killing of Laquan McDonald.

Other major metropolitan cities, where there have been changes in leadership of police departments, have included San Francisco and Oakland.

Yet, for unknown reasons, Commissioner Bratton was able to hold onto his office much longer than though possible by grassroots police reform activists, despite much-publicised officer-involved killings of unarmed men, such as Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, against a national backdrop for increased police accountability ; numerous other instances of police brutality ; and the wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation of the NYPD.

Although Commissioner Bratton appeared to frame his decision to retire from the NYPD as having been made voluntarily for his own personal reasons, his second such announcement took place after advocates for police reform have made growing demands for the formation of a public commission to investigate the systemic corruption at the NYPD, including at its Internal Affairs Bureau. Historically, any time such commissions have been formed, the accountability and reforms executed by such commissions have occurred in connection with a change in the commissionership at the NYPD.

In 1970, then NYPD Commissioner Howard Leary resigned as then Mayor John V. Lindsay (R-New York City) appointed the Knapp Commission to investigate allegations of systemic corruption at the police department. Mr. Leary was succeeded by NYPD Commissioner Patrick Murphy.*

In 1992, then NYPD Commissioner Lee Brown resigned after then Mayor David Dinkins (D-New York City) appointed the Mollen Commission to investigate allegations of systemic corruption at the police department. Mr. Brown was succeeded by NYPD Commissioner Kelly.*

(*) Updated to include information about past resignations of NYPD commissioners in the wake of large-scale corruption scandals on the police force.