New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced today that he plans to step down from his perch as the leader of the nation’s largest police force.
“I’m leaving because it’s the right time,” Bratton said at a news conference, noting that he had worked with city officials to make sure his transition out of the department was smooth.
“This city, this department will have a seamless transition,” Bratton said. “And there has never been a time American policing history when that is more important now.”
Bratton, who has been commissioner since January 2014, had previously served as a top cop in Boston and Los Angeles, as well as during a previous stint as New York police commissioner during the 1990s.
Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Bratton in effusive terms, declaring that the departing commissioner has provided an “inestimable and extraordinary” service to law enforcement in the city and across the country.
The mayor, a Democrat, credited Bratton for “doing two things that many said could not be done at the same time – driving down crime while repairing some of the rift between the police and the community.”
“We have a long way to go, but I don’t think any of us could have imagined a more productive 31 months,” de Blasio said.
Bratton will be succeeded by James O’Neill, the chief of department. O’Neill has been with the department since the 1980s and was described by the mayor as the “architect” of the department’s community policing program.
“Jimmy is one of the best prepared incoming police commissioners that this city has ever seen,” de Blasio said. “This is the man who created that vision of neighborhood policing, and he is the man who will see that vision through to fruition for the good of all New Yorkers.”