Video Transcript

00:10 William Bratton: So Giuliani provided the political leadership, I was appointed as his first Police Commissioner and I provided the police leadership. Based on successes that I had had in the Transit police in 1990, in which we had began to reduce crime in the subway system, by leadership that, one, had a passion for a policing. I loved being a cop. I was very proud of being a cop and I refused to believe that we could not make a difference. I was able to impact that confidence, that enthusiasm, that exuberance for the men and women of the Transit police. The Transit police were the least respected of the three police departments in New York working in the subways, below ground, an awful environments who work on in any circumstance. A day like today up in New York City would be 90, 95 degrees and humid. Down in the subway tunnels, it could be as high as a 110, 120 degrees. And they are walking around with bullet proof vests and all the equipments that they had to carry, awful conditions.

01:15 Bratton: But in the early '90s, they began to make a difference. They began to go after the signs of crime, the fare evaders. They began to go after the disorderly conduct, they began to move the homeless population out of the subway system and moved them into the city shelters. They had leadership, they had vision, they had inclusion. A process in which the district commanders, the squad commanders could come together to share ideas. How do we deal with this problem? How do we deal more effectively with this issue? And we began to make a change. So in a city in which crimes still went up in '91 and '92, in the subway system it went down by over 20%. Giuliani noticed that when he was running for Mayor, asked, "if I was appointed commissioner, could you do the same thing in the city streets?" And I said, "I can and I will." I had confidence I could because effectively I was competing with the NYPD. You know what competition is about. You are not going to succeed if you don't know what your competitor is up to, and how you could beat them.

02:19 Bratton: Well I had watched the NYPD for those two years as chief of Transit. I had watched their deficiencies. I had watched their inability to really focus on what could work. It was a huge organization. The previous presented talked about the differences between large organizations to small organizations. Mine wasn't particularly a small organization, with 4000 offices, was a lot smaller than that 31,000. But the same thing that can motivate the small, can motivate the large, it's a matter of scalability. So, I had confidence that the department... The NYPD was being under utilized. Going in at 1994, the day I was announced as Police Commissioner by Giuliani, I made a statement, and this goes back to my earlier comment about exuding a vision and optimism. The statement was, "We will fight for every house, we will fight for every street, we will fight for every neighborhood, and we will win." And we won. Today in New York City, they've had now almost 20 years, straight 20 years of crime decline.

03:29 Bratton: It is the safest large city in America. It is one of the safest large cities in the world. This year there will report about 125,000 serious crimes versus 700,000. Those of you who have visited New York in the last several years have seen the phenomenon improvement in quality of life, in the subways, in the streets. Times Square is now like Disneyland in many respects. The significant improvement of areas like SoHo, the High Line, all those areas of New York that have been transformed, the poor neighborhoods. And largely the police were responsible for the chipping point that Malcolm Gladwell talked about. The inspiration for Malcolm's chipping point article in the New Yorker that subsequently became the book, was what he had seen happen in the Transit system in the early 1990s. And what he was seeing happen in the New York City police department, in the mid-1990s.

04:27 Bratton: The idea that like an epidemic that grows exponentially, if you can find a cure, if you can find an interrupter, you can reverse it and reduce it. In our world, the business world, you are always looking for an interrupter. An interrupter to expand my marketability, profitability. And what we were able to do in New York City for us in the Transit police and then in the city police, the interrupter was effectively collaboration. As Chief of Police, I surrounded myself with some very smart people. Some from inside the organization, some from outside the organization, but every one of them had to share my vision that something could be done about crime. Every one of them had to share my passion, and I was sharing the Mayor's vision and his passion about this issue.

05:25 Bratton: And so, the first question I asked... The Jim Collins book, "Get the right people on the bus, right people off the bus and the right people in the right seats." First question I had asked the existing command stuff, "How much do you think you can get crime down this year, 1994." The previous year for the first time in 30 years crime had gone down, it had gone down 1%. And the leadership was feeling pretty good about that one percent of crime, you'd feel pretty good if you started making a profit after 25 years of loss. But the profit was nowhere near what it could be, what it should be.

06:00 Bratton: I knew the department had a capacity for at least a 10% decline in crime if properly focused. Person after person from the existing leadership team, "Oh we might be able to get it down 1%, maybe 2%." The highest I got was 3% from the existing leadership. But when I went farther into the organization, down at the one-star chief level, two-star chief level, I started hearing 5%, 10%, 15%. These were the frustrated, people lower in the organization who had not been included, who had not been asked to collaborate, who had not been asked to brainstorm. Get the wrong people off the bus. Out of the seven super chiefs in the NYPD, I got rid of six. Kept one, replaced them with one-star chiefs by and large. The average age of the super chiefs was 62. Average age of the new super chiefs was 42. Literally, right at the beginning, I got rid of one generation of leadership in the department, a generation that has seen nothing but failure in the '70s and '80s, a generation that had lead that failure because of their incapacity to think outside the box. And within the department with this new management, it had nothing to do with the age, it was actually the generation and the ideas. The idea was inclusion, the new team, getting them into the right seats on that bus and allowing me to put my pedal to the metal.

Published on: Aug 9, 2012