NYPD Commissioner Bratton Resigns Job Protecting New Yorkers to Protect CEOs Instead

Commisisoner Bill Bratton, announcing his retirement at City Hall.EXPAND
Commisisoner Bill Bratton, announcing his retirement at City Hall.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced today that he will be resigning his position in September, after less than three three years on the job, in order to take a position in the private sector.

"I’ve received an offer that for me and my wife is extraordinarily exciting and one that I think that we can look forward to," Bratton told reporters at a City hall press conference Tuesday afternoon. "Very shortly, I will make you aware of where I am going, and I think you will fully appreciate that when you are aware of that why I chose to accept this one at this particular time."

After the press conference,  it was announced that Bratton's new job will be as "senior managing director and executive chairman of a newly created risk division" at Teneo, a "global advisory firm that works exclusively with the CEO’s and leaders of the world’s largest and most complex companies providing
strategic counsel."

Bratton told de Blasio he intended to leave the position on July 8, both men said, but it wasn't until yesterday evening that de Blasio settled on his replacement: James O'Neill. O'Neill has been serving as Chief of Department, the highest uniformed position in the NYPD, since 2014, when he took over for Philip Banks III, who resigned mysteriously and is now at the center of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation that has since ensnared several other senior NYPD officials

De Blasio presented Bratton's departure as an inevitability he was well prepared for. "Everyone has known, because the commissioner has been very open about it, that he had a vision for his time here," the mayor said. "Give or take, it was the first term." 

Bratton, whose lopsided relationship with de Blasio is legend, couldn't resist undercutting his boss one last time, suggesting the mayor didn't take his departure with as much aplomb as he'd suggested. When Bratton told de Blasio he was leaving, he said, "I picked him up off the floor and dropped him on my couch." 

Bratton, O'Neill and de Blasio all emphasized that the change in leadership will be "seamless." Benjamin Tucker will be staying on as First Deputy Commissioner, and John Miller will remain as Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism. Carlos Gomez, who currently serves as the department's Chief of Patrol, will replace O'Neill as chief of department.

The transition may be seamless, but de Blasio also sought to present O'Neill's ascent as a new era in NYPD history, one more focused on repairing frayed relationships with the public. The mayor introduced O'Neill as "the architect of our neighborhood policing strategy, a strategy that Commissioner Bratton and Chief O'Neill convinced me over the last several years would be the future of this city." This new neighborhood policing model, which will be without precedent in New York policing history, de Blasio said, will make officers and residents more familiar with each other, and will help to bridge the gulf of distrust that exists between police and the city's poor and minority residents. "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," de Blasio said.

O'Neill said the neighborhood policing initiative was born in the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement. "The protests in the fall of 2014 signaled a change was necessary," he said. The killing of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by a mentally ill man that autumn drove the point home. "It was clear that the NYPD had to evolve and find a new way forward to meet the needs of every New Yorker," he said. "That's when our neighborhood based initiative was truly born."

O'Neill promised to continue to go after violent criminals and to work to prevent terrorism. "Policing also includes insuring that people can safely demonstrate, of course, and the NYPD does it better than anyone else," he added. "I'm in full support of advocacy groups and everyone trying to protest. It's what democracy and America are all about, and it's our job to ensure that right. "

O'Neill career is not entirely spotless. In 2008, he was in charge of the department's narcotic operations when it was revealed that NYPD officers were paying confidential informants with drugs in exchange for their testimony. O'Neill was transferred to a less prestigious position, and reportedly approached Bratton, then in the private sector, for advice. Bratton talked him into sticking around, and when he returned to the NYPD, brought O'Neill into his executive staff.

"It's now time for me to move on," Bratton said. "With the appointment of Jimmy O'Neill…this city, this department, will have a seamless transition."

Bratton's own transition will be to Teneo. The firm is probably best known to the public as the juggernaut launched on founder Doug Band's close ties to Bill Clinton. You may have read this New York Times story, or the lengthy New Republic article that details how Teneo serves as a nexus of money and influence connecting the Clintons, their Clinton Global Initiative, and Teneo clients like MF Global, FIFA, and Standard Chartered PLC, the British Bank caught illegally laundering money for the Iranian government.

“I am extremely impressed with the global business Teneo has built over the last five-years and I believe in the firm’s focus on working with the CEOs of the world’s largest companies,” Bratton said in a Teneo press release today.

The state of New York’s relationship with its police being what it is, Bratton perhaps wasn’t surprised that after his fond farewell this afternoon, his first steps outside of City Hall had a distinctly different flavor.

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