Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio chose the Red Hook Community Justice Center as the setting for one of the first major appointments of his administration: William Bratton as police commissioner.
In his remarks, the incoming mayor made clear why he’d chosen the Justice Center to make the announcement: he, Bratton, and the Justice Center all share a belief in the importance of community collaboration.
“The fundamental idea” behind the Justice Center’s work, de Blasio explained, is that “the way to fight crime… is with the community. This has been epitomized here to great, great effect, and that idea really animates… my entire view of public safety and how we have to move forward as a city.”
The incoming mayor called the Justice Center an “extraordinary institution” that “epitomizes what I believe in terms of … a progressive approach to public safety.”
This will be Bratton’s second time as head of the nation’s largest police force. He is a long-time proponent of policing innovations, such as COMPSTAT, a police management strategy that uses data and accountability to tackle public safety problems.
In a survey of 600 national criminal justice leaders published this year by the Center for Court Innovation, Bratton was the named “most innovative person in criminal justice over the last decade.”
Bratton was also interviewed by the Center for Court Innovation for the book Daring to Fail. In the interview, he spoke about his willingness to experiment with new ideas. “I’ve always described my departments as laboratories. I want everyone to know that they are encouraged to test new ideas," Bratton said.
Bratton is a strong advocate for improved police-community relations, and de Blasio called him the nation’s “leading voice” on community policing. Bratton said community policing combines three key elements: community collaboration, problem-solving, and an emphasis on crime prevention.
“I am pleased to return to an administration that is focused so much on what I believe I’ve attempted to do during [my career’s] 46 years: to bring the community and police together,” Bratton said.
He said one of his top goals is to foster “mutual collaboration” and “mutual respect” between the public and police. De Blasio and Bratton both emphasized the importance of collaborating with communities and fostering greater trust between citizens and the justice system.
De Blasio said the work of the Red Hook Community Justice Center and other justice centers in New York City is “legendary” for making strides in those areas.
“This center made sure that Red Hook and other surrounding communities are safe and that the relationship between the community and police and other public safety professionals is strong,” de Blasio said.
The Mayor-elect cited statistics from a recent independent evaluation, noting that the 78 percent of offenders whose cases have been heard at the Red Hook Community Justice Center have received alternative sanctions, including community service or social service sanctions. He also noted that the Center has reduced the number of offenders receiving jail sentences by 35 percent.
He added: “Public safety and respect for the public are not contradictory ideas; they are complementary ideas. They go hand in hand. And I think this is how we’re going to have a safe city going forward. I’ve talked about this throughout campaign and throughout my career about the need to ensure safety through maximum community consultation and involvement. That proactive approach, that preventative approach is what we’ll truly make us safe for the long run.”