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Event Public Safety Policing, Crime Control

Young Leaders Circle Forum With William Bratton

Wednesday July 2016


William Bratton New York City Police Commissioner

New York City is the safest big city in America, but it didn't get that way by accident. Crime in New York plummeted by 75 percent during the last 25 years, falling twice as quickly as crime rates nationally. Homicides, in particular, fell substantially. While many factors contributed to this unprecedented and sustained crime drop, few individuals were more responsible for the "New York miracle" than NYPD commissioner William Bratton. On July 13, we are honored to welcome him to the Young Leaders Circle (YLC).

Bratton began his career in law enforcement working as a police officer in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1990—near the height of New York's crime crisis—Bratton was appointed chief of the New York City Transit Police. The subway system was a treacherous place then. Crime was rampant. Applying the "Broken Windows" theories of the Manhattan Institute's James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, Bratton's officers began proactively policing quality-of-life infractions. Cracking down on fare evasion and graffiti—and working with the MTA to improve the physical condition of stations and platforms—yielded immediate and dramatic results. From 1990 through 1993, New York's crime rate dropped twice as fast underground as it did aboveground.

In 1994, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appointed Bratton commissioner of the NYPD. During that first tenure as commissioner, Bratton implemented Broken Windows tactics citywide and famously introduced CompStat, a statistical crime tracking and police accountability system that remains central to NYPD operations—and has been replicated across the United States. "Crime, the theory went, was caused by societal problems that were impervious to police intervention," Bratton explained in his memoir. "That was the unchallenged conventional wisdom espoused by academics, sociologists, and criminologists. I intended to prove them wrong." Prove them wrong, he did.

Bratton, who served as the Boston police commissioner (1993-1994) and chief of police of Los Angeles (2002-2009), is a longtime friend of the Manhattan Institute. In the 2000s, he and Kelling traveled across the U.S.—and throughout Central and Latin America—as part of MI's program to help city leaders think in innovative ways about crime prevention. In 2012 and 2013, Bratton collaborated with MI on an initiative to help implement Broken Windows policing in Detroit. Together, we succeeded in securing some of the Motor City's most vulnerable neighborhoods. Bratton was reappointed commissioner of the NYPD by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013.

Please RSVP for this event online as soon as possible; space is limited and a waitlist will be created when we reach capacity. If you plan to bring a guest, you must RSVP for them as well. YLC Advisory Committee members are invited to a private dinner following the lecture with Commissioner Bratton, MI chairman Paul Singer, vice chairman Dr. Michael Fedak, other MI trustees, and senior staff. If you are interested in joining the Advisory Committee, please e-mail Marin Schlossberg at