Power Broker: Bill Bratton, Former NYC Police Commissioner

Commissioner Bill Bratton
Commissioner Bill Bratton
Dan Bigelow

Former New York City Police Commissioner William “Bill” Bratton is one of the nation’s foremost voices in law enforcement. Over a storied, near-five decade career in the police, Bratton was among the most visible leaders in the City of New York as well as nationally.

Bratton is the only person in American history to be named commissioner of two of the nation’s largest police forces. He served twice as the commissioner of the New York Police Department, in 1994 through 1996 and 2014 through 2016, and also served as the commissioner of the Boston Police Department in 1993 and 1994. He also completed a stint as chief of police in the City of Los Angeles.

Bratton is perhaps the most influential law enforcement leader of the past century.  Throughout his career, he has been credited with “reinventing” police work, implementing policies and utilizing technology that has aided law enforcement to curb crime and curtail violence in two of the nation’s largest cities.

Bratton’s first tenure at the post of commissioner of the NYPD oversaw a great recovery. Crime, which was at record-highs in the 1980s and early ’90s, subsided beneath his leadership, revitalizing the five boroughs which led to a revitalization and renaissance that is largely still observed today.

In his second term as commissioner, he presided over 32 months of declining crime, which earned the city the title of “The Safest Big City in the United States.” It was innovations and initiatives that begun beneath Commissioner Bratton that advanced counterterrorism capabilities of the department, reduced violent crime and murder to historic lows, and embraced technology – such as smartphones, tablets, and custom-made apps – to advance police work and set a national model.

Much to his credit, while police work has evolved over the past five decades, Bratton’s perspectives and insight have only become more relevant.

“Since I first got into policing in 1970, my goals have changed over time. I wanted to have an impact on the police profession, and I think that I have had that. It has been a very rewarding career – both in the public sector and in the private sector,” says Bratton.

Today, while serving in the private sector as the executive chairman of risk advisory for CEO consultancy Teneo, he also holds the position of chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, and has held the position in the last two presidential administrations, after being named vice chair beneath then-President Barack Obama.

Bratton’s early life began in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. He served in the Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army during the War in Vietnam.  When he returned to Boston after the war, he was sworn in as a Boston Police Officer. Within ten years, he was the youngest-ever Executive Superintendent of the Boston
Police.

While his career in the police has brought him from Boston, to New York, and to Los Angeles, today, he now calls Long Island’s East End home… nostalgically, he notes, the Hamptons remind him of growing up in Massachusetts on the beaches of another waterfront community: Cape Cod.

“When I first visited the Hamptons in 1991 with a friend, Dr. Rich Winter, it reminded me of Cape Cod, and I recognized that there was a very special way of life here,” he recalls the visit that led him to purchase his first East End home in Quogue, which he sold in 2002 after temporarily relocating to Los Angeles.

When contrasting Cape Cod and the Hamptons, he says the most noticeable difference is the geography.

“Cape Cod has bigger bluffs, whereas the Hamptons is very flat… other than the Shinnecock bluffs. I’ve always liked living near the water. I like the back-country roads of the Hamptons, and a lifestyle of moving around. So, on any given day we could be in four or five of the villages on the East End,” Bratton continues.

 Bratton, like many of us, has had a longtime affinity for the way of life of the East End, so, during the coronavirus pandemic, he and his wife – Rikki Klieman, a renowned legal analyst for CBS News and television personality – had the ability to move eastward in a more permanent fashion.

“We sold our house in Quogue in 2002 and have since relocated to a home in Hampton Bays. We became full-time residents on the East End last year, like many people did, when the New York City offices closed. It really gave us the opportunity to experience the four seasons in the Hamptons, and there really is a great charm to this place because of the beauty of it,” Commissioner Bratton adds.

Commissioner Bratton and Rikki enjoy their exposure to the East End and the Hamptons. He says it is like no place else in the world – the very same sentiments that many of our fellow East End residents share.

“My wife, like myself, absolutely loves it out here and there is nothing like watching the change of seasons with all those who live out here with me,” he concludes.

Bratton’s astounding life of service to New York City, and the nation, is worthy of the utmost of applause, and we are honored to have him as our neighbor, in our quaint East End oasis.

Bratton has recently published a memoir, titled The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America, which he co-authored with Peter Knobler, which will be available wherever books are sold.

Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.

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