NEW YORK—Just under 24 hours after taking the oath of office at City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio found himself on the other side Thursday. De Blasio administered the oath of office to his new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in a ceremony at One Police Plaza.
“Who says you can’t come home again?” Bratton jokingly asked the several hundred officers and elected officials at the ceremony. “And it is great to be back.”
Bratton takes over as the city’s top cop for the second time in his illustrious career. He served under Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 1994 to 1996.
Bratton takes over the department from Ray Kelly who served as police commissioner for 12 years under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bratton had kind words for his predecessor during his 23-minute speech, saying the city was safer thanks to Kelly.
“Over these 12 years, he has committed himself to keeping this city safe and he has in fact done that,” Bratton said.
He mentioned how cooperative Kelly and the team had been during the transition and shared a poignant moment when he was sworn in at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Bratton said when he and his wife Rikki Klieman arrived at One Police Plaza to be sworn in there was a bottle of champagne and a personal note from Kelly. It read, “Happy New Year. Good Luck. Ray Kelly,” according to Bratton.
“The idea he would take the time to leave that for us is a reflection of the man he is,” Bratton said.
Bratton takes on a department that is looking to repair soured relationships between minority communities who have felt targeted by the police through surveillance programs and the use of stop and frisk.
“I know there has been frustration over some of the policies that may have stood in the way of deepening that relationship and we are here to make sure, as we move forward, that wherever there has been a rift that we heal it,” de Blasio said.
Since being appointed commissioner in early December, Bratton has spoken at length about his commitment to bring police and community back together. On Thursday he reiterated that claim saying, “We will do all we can to ensure a collaboration unlike any we have ever seen in this city.”
The city has enjoyed record low murder rates for the past two years, but Bratton said he was disappointed to see it was not celebrated. Much of the focus in the 2013 campaign season was on the over use of stop and frisk and how it divided police and communities.
“Where did we disconnect?” Bratton asked. “The challenge for all of us is to find that disconnect and to heal it and to collaborate together.”
He continued, “We will all work hard to identify why is it that so many in this city do not feel good about this department that has done so much to make them safe.”
Bratton and de Blasio will embark on a new direction in policing in New York City, but both promised it will not affect safety.
“I can tell you, the City of New York is in good hands,” de Blasio said.