During his first stint as New York City police commissioner, Bill Bratton gained a reputation as an early tech adopter. He’s the guy who introduced CompStat — the statistical model that determines where crime will occur — to the department. CompStat has since spread to police departments around the country.
So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that during his time in the private sector (he stepped down as Los Angeles police chief in 2009) Bratton co-founded a social network exclusively for police officers, BlueLine Connect.
The service — which reporter Darwin BondGraham included in last month’s Voice roundup of Bratton’s potential conflicts of interest — launched in October, and requires an official law-enforcement email to sign up the same way the early iterations of Facebook required a college one. Cofounder David Riker estimates the service has more than 10,000 users.
NYPD officers have been known to use Facebook in investigations — posing as nubile young women to catfish gang members — but, officially, the department prohibits members from posting pictures of themselves in uniform, or mentioning their job anywhere in their personal profile.
In March, Ray Kelly issued a letter reminding officers of the rule, and warning them they could fired for breaking it.
Neither Facebook nor LinkedIn, Riker says, “have security protections, et cetera, for individuals to guard their identity.” Riker describes BlueLine Connect as “a safe environment for law enforcement professionals, who shouldn’t be exposing their identity as a law enforcement professional.”
Yesterday, as Bill de Blasio was announcing Bratton’s appointment as NYPD commissioner, BlueLine Connect’s official account tweeted, “As the @NYCTransition gets underway, BlueLine will be transitioning too.”
A message on the homepage also seemed to imply Bratton’s new position would be a boon for BlueLine too: “Congratulations, Commissioner Bratton, as you bring BlueLine’s mission of collaboration to New York and beyond.” Next to the congratulatory message was a photo of Bratton with co-founders David Riker and Jack Weiss.
The three men met, Riker says, working at a New York-based company called Altegrity after Bratton left the Los Angeles Police Department in 2009. At Altegrity, which Riker says specializes in employment screenings and investigations, Weiss (a former L.A. city councilman) focused on investigations, and Riker focused on data.
Bratton, Riker says, “had been brought in to focus on a specific government project related to policing.”
Kroll, Inc. is one subsidiary of Altegrity. As the Voice previously reported, Bratton worked for Kroll both before and after his stints with the LAPD. The city of Los Angeles also paid Kroll $16 million for a program to address police corruption. In recent years, Kroll has also won contracts with the NYPD.
The Voice reached out to Riker to ask what exactly Bratton’s appointment meant for BlueLine Connect. Were the tweets and messages intended to suggest Bratton would be bringing BlueLine with him to the NYPD?
Riker insists they were not. Bratton, he says, is transitioning away from BlueLine Connect and its parent company, Bratton Technologies, entirely when he begins his new job. Riker will assume the title of CEO.
But that doesn’t mean Riker expects Bratton’s departure — or the publicity in particular — will necessarily hurt the company. (After the announcement yesterday, BlueLine’s official Twitter account attempted to interest various media outlets in a promotional video featuring Bratton.)
“So much of what Bill stands for is collaboration, technology, facilitating transparency,” Riker says. “He and Mayor-elect de Blasio used the word collaboration many times — it’s what’s in his DNA, and regardless of his connection with the company this is the institution of what Bill believes in, right? So, that’s really good for us as far as him continuing those types of advances as a civil servant.”