New York City Commissioner William Bratton announced on Tuesday that he is resigning his post effective next month. Bratton was short on details about why he was leaving but long on glowing remarks on his time leading Gotham’s police force.
William Bratton made it clear that he was not leaving due to retirement. He is not fading into the background because of old age or lack of health. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bratton is leaving his post “with reluctance,” but he and his wife were given another opportunity he called “extraordinarily exciting.”
Beyond that rather cryptic comment, Bratton would not go into detail about just what the opportunity entailed. He did say the position was from a private firm that had nothing to do with policing and that Bratton and his wife would be staying in New York.
The timing of his resignation is a bit strange, if only because it comes just days after Millions March NYC started a protest they said would not end until William Bratton stepped down.
The group, which has connections to the Black Lives Matter movement, had pointed to, among other things, a federal probe into the New York City police department. Despite the recent legal troubles, Bratton repeatedly claimed they had nothing to do with his resignation.
The New York Times points out Mr. Bratton was easily the most visible law enforcement officer in the country. Bratton’s work had changed what people expected from a police commander.
Bratton has spent 45 years in law enforcement. He came to fame as the police chief in Los Angeles, but Bratton also worked in Boston before coming to New York.
Bratton says the official announcement of his stepping down had been delivered to the Mayor Monday evening. He also named who he would like to step in and take his place. Bratton and those in the know worked to keep the move under wraps until he could officially announce on Tuesday morning.
If that timetable sounds rather fast, it might be because Bratton made the decision in short order. During the resignation press conference, Bratton made several comments that seemed to indicate he felt as if his job wasn’t quite done as police commissioner.
“I wish I had more time chronologically to stay around — three, four years to work on the issues that are going to take that long to straighten out — but I don’t have that kind of time.”
As a way to dispel the notion further that Bratton was leaving because of legal pressure, Mayor Bill de Blasio went out of his way to compliment his soon to be former police commissioner. During his own remarks, the mayor called Bratton an “extraordinary partner.” He even seemed to tear up a bit at one point during his speech.
In William Bratton’s place comes Chief James P. O’Neill. O’Neill was the highest-ranked uniformed police officer before accepting this promotion. O’Neill has been an officer since 1983 and over the years has forged a very good working relationship with Bratton.
O’Neill, too, was visibly emotional during the press conference. Part of that emotion was likely the fact that he had been told he was going to be replacing Bratton just 16 hours earlier. Unable to have time to allow the sudden promotion to sink in, he allowed his emotions to carry him through his brief remarks.
There was at least one person who seemed to be heartened by the departure of William Bratton. Ritchie Torres, a city councilman and advocate of police reform, said he hoped a lower profile police commissioner would be more accountable to elected officials and less prone to power struggles.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]