Even as congressional negotiations continue on police reform legislation, former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says policing in America is “in a good place at this time, despite all the controversy, because [police] are in the spotlight.”
“As the government gets ready to spend trillions of dollars on a multitude of issues, let’s hope they put some of that money into the reforms that are going to get policing farther down the path of reform,” Bratton told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. Bratton has decades of experience, having served as Boston police commissioner and Los Angeles Police Department chief in addition to two terms as New York City police commissioner.
As for the kind of reform that he’d like to see in legislation, Bratton said transparency on the part of police departments would be a key element, as well as better training. But he also said that no legislation would be a cure-all: “We never reach a final destination in policing,” Bratton told Garrett. “We never reach it in medicine. We never reach the science as the world is always changing around us… the twenty-first century changed the previous two hundred years of police reform and totally expanded all the issues that cops now have to deal with.”
He views the “defund the police” movement that gained popularity in cities around the country last year in the wake of George Floyd’s killing as “one of the stupidest slogans I’ve ever experienced in my 50 years,” which,he went on to say was a “great hashtag.”
Taking responsibilities away from police for emergency calls involving the mentally ill or those experiencing homelessness, Bratton said, would be hard to implement nationally, although he favors looking at this as an avenue for reform.
“I’m supportive of that. Every police chief in America would support that,” Bratton said. “It’s going to cost you a fortune, is going to take years to set up those bureaucracies and why we — the police — do it in the first place.”
Bratton, who currently serves as the chair for the Homeland Security secretary’s advisory council, said that the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 revealed a dark faction of American political life.
“[The Capitol insurrection] really brought to the national consciousness this idea that there are these elements in our society, as evidenced by the thousands that stormed the Capitol, who, for a variety of reasons, want to effectively take down this democracy and replace it with something else. It’s very scary, Bratton said. “But for the actions of the Capitol Police, our democracy would have ended on that day.”
Highlights from this week’s episode:
- On police reform: “We are, interestingly enough, in a good place at this time, despite all the controversy, because we are in the spotlight, we have set the stage. And as the government gets ready to spend trillions of dollars on a multitude of issues, that let’s hope they put some of that money into the reforms that are going to be necessary to get policing farther down the path of reform understanding we never reach a final destination in policing. We never reach it in medicine. We never reach the science as the world is always changing around us.”
- “Defund the Police”: “One of the stupidest slogans I’ve ever experienced in my 50 years… it was a great hashtag.”
- His former boss in New York City, Rudy Giuliani: “[Giuliani] was part of the cabal that effectively tried to destroy our democracy, something that he took an oath as the U.S. attorney and certainly then as the Mayor of New York to defend that constitution. And there he was leading the charge effectively on January 6th. But for the actions of the Capitol Police, our democracy would have ended on that day and he would have been one of the principal instigators of that.”
For more of Major’s conversation with Bratton, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com