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Summer 1992
City Journal Interview: Victory in the Subways
William J. Bratton

Until his recent departure from New York City, former Transit Police Chief William J. Bratton presided over a little known but profoundly important Cinderella story—the transformation of New York’s Transit Police from a demoralized, passive unit into a highly motivated, aggressive, and effective police force responsible for enforcing law and order on one of the world’s toughest beats.

Bill Bratton’s highest accolade is the one given him by his colleagues and subordinates. He is known as “a cop’s cop.” Fulfilling his childhood dream, he joined the Boston Police Department in 1970 after serving as an MP in the U.S. Army. After six years as a patrol officer Bratton won the prestigious Schroeder Medal for heroism in 1976. Promoted to a staff position at Boston Police Headquarters, Bratton began to study the concept of community policing and apply it in a series of model programs in Boston. At the same time his outstanding performance and leadership skills earned him promotion to the Boston Police Department’s senior ranks. In April 1990, he accepted the challenge to become chief of the New York Transit Police.

At no time in his career have Bratton’s leadership qualities been more vividly demonstrated than in his transformation of New York City’s beleaguered Transit Police. In just two years Bratton took a failing institution and turned it around. Morale was restored. Operations were rejuvenated and professionalized. Arrests of criminals and evictions of the disorderly soared. As a result of these strategies, ejections rose from 2,000 to between 10,000 and 15,000 a month. Felonies committed in the subways have declined by more than 30 percent in the past two years.

In this, the first of an ongoing series of interviews with innovative leaders working to improve our cities, City Journal wanted to find out how Bratton did it, and what the implications were for policing generally.

We interviewed Chief Bratton in New York, and a fortnight later in his sixth-floor office at Boston Police Headquarters. The interview was conducted by City Journal editorial advisory board member George Kelling, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University and a leading theorist in the community policing movement, who was instrumental in bringing Bratton to the New York Transit Police; Fred Siegel, a professor of history at Cooper Union, noted authority on public spaces, and also a member of the City Journal’s editorial board; Ed Hayes, a prominent criminal lawyer and former Bronx assistant district attorney; and Lawrence Mone and James MacGuire of the Manhattan Institute.

CITY JOURNAL: Let’s start by asking your definition of community policing, the philosophy behind it, and why you think it is important.

BRATTON: Lee Brown’s definition is a good one: In community policing, police form a partnership with members of the community to solve problems such as crime, the fear of crime, social disorder, and neighborhood decay. It is a proactive, not reactive, philosophy that attacks problems at their roots. It emphasizes prevention through creative problem-solving techniques.

In community policing, officers are assigned to steady “beats” within a community either in a car, on a scooter, or on foot, depending on the geography and nature of the beat. By being assigned to the same beat, they become intimately involved with their community and develop a sense of responsibility for what happens there. The community police officer knows his neighborhood, and the citizens in the neighborhood know him. They talk to him, share problems, and work through him to solve those problems rather than relying on 911. The other side of the coin is that the officer develops contacts in the community and relies on them to be his eyes and ears. If the community solves its own problems with the assistance of the police, the total number of calls for assistance should decrease measurably. For instance, in Flint, Michigan, calls decreased 43 percent over three years, demonstrating that community policing pays for itself.

The fundamental point about community policing is that officers and the community jointly identify problems and make decisions on how to address them. Crime becomes a problem to be addressed not only by the police but also by the community. All people have a stake in crime prevention. No matter how many officers we deploy to respond to 911 calls, we cannot meet all the expectations of a community. The community must police itself, with our assistance.

In Boston, for instance, our network of “block watchers” has grown from 35 in 1980 to 600 today. Our neighborhoods have been enfranchised. We had no explosions after the L.A. riots because we were already on the streets talking to our community networks.

CITY JOURNAL: Could community policing have worked in Los Angeles?

BRATTON: The LAPD has historically had many strengths, including enormous pride in its performance. But the citizens of L.A. have never been willing to fund the police there at a level consonant with the challenge they face. The result is that L.A. has been understaffed for thirty years. Everyone knows it, and nobody has had the political will to do anything about it. Before the riots, there had been a proposal on the table to cut the present force size by 10 percent across the board. Needless to say, no one is claiming authorship of that brainstorm these days.

Los Angeles has about 1.3 police officers per thousand residents. That compares to approximately 3 officers per thousand residents in New York and other comparable cities. And remember that L.A. is far more geographically dispersed than New York or most other cities.

To respond effectively to a situation like the L.A. riots you have to be able to put force on the street quickly. In New York City the department can deploy two thousand cops in a matter of minutes. They can outnumber the demonstrators at most demonstrations!

L.A. needs more officers so that it can handle its 9l1 workload and spend time walking the neighborhoods. L.A. has more than one million 911 calls that go unanswered a year. That’s three thousand a day that do not even get a response. They need more manpower just to relieve that pressure. Then they can begin to devise strategies that go to the source of the problems they have. L.A. also must completely reverse its impersonal, “just the facts, ma’am,” policing approach. That intimidating, macho style has not worked. There is phenomenal alienation out there, and I, like the rest of America, will be very interested to see how they work it out.

CITY JOURNAL: What was the condition of the New York Transit Police when you came onto the job?

BRATTON: The situation was not good. Here was a force of four thousand officers—the seventh or eighth largest police department in the country—and nobody wanted to be identified as a transit policeman. At parties, if someone asked them what they did, they’d just say, “I’m a cop.” They were embarrassed to be known as Transit Police. The force was demoralized. And for good reason.

The lack of esprit de corps flowed directly from an absence of vision of what the department ought to be doing to deal with the situation it confronted in the late Eighties and early Nineties. For whatever reason—whether political, bureaucratic, or personality-driven—there was a vacuum of leadership.

CITY JOURNAL: How did this manifest itself?

BRATTON: In many ways. First was the selection process. All police candidates entered the central police academy, and there was a lottery to determine who was assigned to the Transit Police, who to the Housing Police, and who to the main force. Getting into Transit was like the booby prize. What kind of message does that send to a young recruit? Tough luck kid, you lose—you’re going over to transit. Can you blame people for being demoralized when that is what the system is telling them?

Then there were the job conditions. The Transit Police district stations located in the subways were in terrible shape. Many were old and hadn’t been properly maintained for years. There was inadequate air-conditioning in most of them. They were not designed for effective policing, but merely to fit into whatever space was available. I remember, when I first began riding around the system, how shocked I was when I got to one of the Brooklyn stations. The district station was all the way at the other end of the platform from the subway station entrance—probably at least 250 yards and then you had to go up four flights of stairs. Imagine how difficult it would be getting an unruly drunk down the platform to the district station. The station was completely unsuitable for policing.

Third, there was the disgraceful communications situation. The Transit Police were using radios that did not even work underground. Can you imagine what impact that has on a cop who is working alone and may be about to confront a dangerous criminal? He’s exposed and vulnerable, and if he needs backup he can’t call for it. It was crazy. But for some reason the system tolerated that craziness. There was always some excuse for not upgrading the radios—budget cutbacks, or political infighting, or whatever. Meanwhile, crime in the subways rose.

Another deficiency when I arrived was that we had very few cars. I suppose the rationale was that since we were a transit force, we should always be in the transit system. But that reasoning had some serious flaws. If criminals could count on cops arriving only by subway, they just waited in the station for one train to pull out, and they knew they were in no danger of being apprehended until the next one came in. And they were right.

Many of the cars we did have were allocated to command staff or district offices. Very few were available for daily police work. This, again, had an extremely negative effect on men in the field. If you’re about to make a collar in the station at 125th Street, and you think the perpetrator may be armed, and there’s no assurance of backup, and to get the prisoner down to the district office they’re going to send a car from Fourteenth Street that may take an hour to get to you, your work is being made unreasonably difficult. We needed our own fleet of cars, and I began fighting for that immediately.

Other problems included an interminably long arrest-processing system. If a cop made an arrest, he could count on spending the next 12 hours with the accused criminal at the station. This was not only extremely tedious; it took men we needed on the beat out of the line of duty.

Finally, there was very poor supervision when I arrived. Many top people just sat in their air-conditioned offices and told people what to do and never got out into the system to see what was going on. They were completely out of touch with operations in the field, and it showed. Officers were given incredibly mind-numbing assignments—single-officer patrols, watching a token booth for eight hours—and nobody ever questioned it. There was defeatist attitude everywhere.

I can sum up the condition of the entire transit force by telling you a story of what happened my first night on the job. I had just arrived from Boston and was living temporarily in a midtown hotel. I went out for a walk and passed a subway entrance. There was an officer outside it, and at first, because the uniforms are so similar, I assumed he was a regular NYPD man. But I looked closely and saw the patch that said “Transit Police,” and I went up to introduce myself. “Good evening, officer,” I said. “I’m Chief Bratton. I’m just starting to move around the system, and I want to introduce myself.”

This guy was leaning against a building, with his arms crossed. He had his cap tilted sideways. His hair was too long, dirty, and uncombed. He hadn’t shaved for a couple of days. His shirt was open, and the tie was attached to his collar tab. His belt was sagging from all the equipment that he had to have on it, which was far more than the belt was designed for. All those gadgets have nothing to do with good police work and make our people look more like telephone utility men than cops. And his shoes hadn’t been polished for weeks, if they ever had been at all. Now I may be something of a nut on appearance, but I think it’s safe to say that this guy looked like a mess.

Furthermore, at first he did nothing at all to respond to my greeting. He just looked back at me, arms still crossed, as I stretched out my hand. Then I could see his mind working. “Bratton, Bratton . . .” Finally it registered, and he managed to stand up and shake hands. “How’s it going?” I asked. He said, “Fine.”

“What’s your assignment?” “I’m guarding that token booth.” He pointed down the steps to the station.

“What else are you assigned to do?” “That’s it.” “Why are you assigned to do that?” “It was robbed.” “When? “ “I don’t know. A couple of months ago.” “Well, if your assignment is to guard the token booth, why aren’t you down there doing it?” “My radio doesn’t work down there.”

In that one story I discovered many of the elements that comprised the force I had just taken over. The men were not proud of their positions, nor did they take care of their appearance. And nobody told them they should be proud or that they should appear as respectable and impressive public servants. The officers were being assigned to unbearably boring, tedious, and ultimately fruitless work. And they were not equipped or supported in the way they should have been to achieve those tasks they were given.

CITY JOURNAL: What initiatives did you take?

BRATTON: The first thing I did was get out and around the system to find out what was going on. I must say I was impressed. Whatever the difficulties they faced, most of the force was still trying to do the best job they could, given the constraints they were working under. One of the nice traditions of the New York Transit Police is the salute. When I first went into the field to see what the situation was, I would tour stations and posts, and I always started with the salute, and the men always saluted back. They were being treated like the police officers they were, and they responded well to that.

Then we would talk. No one had ever come out to see them before and tried to understand what they were up against. They were thrilled to get the chance to tell their story. Out of these conversations in the field and my own observations, we eventually formed a consensus as to what were the principal challenges that faced us in performing our mission.

CITY JOURNAL: What were the primary problems?

BRATTON: The three critical, interrelated obstacles we faced were crime, disorder, and fare evasion. Crime was on the rise in the subways, but equally important, fear of crime was on the rise as well. This was costing the Transit Authority significant revenue and adding to the city’s fiscal problems.

Disorder was out of control. The number of people loitering or sleeping in the system, graffiti, and garbage and human waste were all on the rise. This had a pernicious effect: Good citizens more and more were avoiding the subway system.

Finally, fare evasion was becoming epidemic. In some stations people who paid the fare were becoming the exception rather than the rule. Fare-beaters were vaulting over the turnstiles by the hundreds, and only limited, ineffective measures were being taken to prevent them. After all, in a system with over seven hundred stations, you can’t have an officer at every turnstile all day long.

But again, it was not just fare evasion that was the problem, it was also the public’s perception of fare evasion. People looked at the steadily increasing volumes of fare evasion, of disorder, and of crime, and quite understandably they began to say, “Hey, we don’t want to be part of this.”

We understood early on that the problems of crime, disorder, and fare evasion were deeply interrelated, and that therefore we would have to form a coherent strategy to deal with them. We began to refer to the “seamless web.” Implicit in this was that our work on any one of the three major problems would have an impact on the others.

CITY JOURNAL: What kind of tactics did you develop to address these problems?

BRATTON: Before beginning a comprehensive series of operations I first wanted to motivate our personnel. The first thing I did was to send the command staff into the system to see for themselves what the cops on the beat were facing. If I could ride around the subways at two in the morning there wasn’t any reason why they couldn’t. By doing so, they began to reestablish ties with their subordinates, to win the trust of the men in the field. This helped them become better supervisors.

I also instituted varied assignments so as to break up the monotony of one routine. And I began the fight to arm our force with 9-millimeter weapons. This provoked a huge outcry, but having seen the conditions in which the force worked, I was convinced that it was the correct thing to do. The weapon is powerful, yes, but the essential thing about it is that it is so much more accurate. Police Commissioner Lee Brown, a dear friend, does not share my view on this, so we agree to disagree. But I am convinced that if we are asking our people to go up against armed criminals, we have to give them, at least, equivalent firepower. It’s another way of sending our officers the message that we value them.

As for specific tactics, we organized two different kinds of teams. We had plainclothes sweep teams who would come into a station or through a train looking for problems. They came in force, so the trepidation and anxiety a cop might feel working on his own in a dangerous situation was not a problem. We worked carefully with the District Attorney’s office to develop procedures that did not violate anyone’s civil rights. In fact the D.A. helped train our people. Each sweep team had four to six officers and was led by a sergeant. They worked well together and had high morale, and the sweeps produced some interesting results. One out of every six fare-evaders we stopped either was carrying a weapon or was wanted for another crime on an outstanding warrant. That was an incredibly high statistic, and it made us realize that by fighting fare evasion we were also making an impact on crime: That’s what we meant by the “seamless web.” Using plainclothesmen to catch fare-beaters really made criminals think twice about bringing a weapon into the system, or about entering the system at all. And that really helped bring down the subway crime rate in the past two years.

The other tactical response we greatly enlarged was our use of decoy teams, in which an officer, backed up by a group of other officers in plain clothes, will play the role of a vulnerable citizen in order to catch violent criminals. Cops like decoy work. They feel they are more effective working in civilian clothes because they are not instantly identifiable.

There is a particular problem in New York City that has been significantly underreported, and that is the high incidence of crime against Asians. It is huge. We began to form decoy squads using Asian members of the force that would deal with this phenomenon, and in the process our conviction rate soared. As it did, crime began to go down.

CITY JOURNAL: How well have your initiatives to keep disorderly people out of the system worked?

BRATTON: No sooner had we begun Operation Enforcement, a major enforcement effort designed to deal with rules violators, than Judge Sand issued his ruling preventing us from ejecting many disorderly people from the subway. Once the Sand ruling was overturned, we intensified our efforts to curb disorder, and this very quickly resulted in a rise of our monthly ejections from the system from 2,000 to 16,000.

CITY JOURNAL: Did this result in any controversy?

BRATTON: Of course there was an outcry from homeless advocates, but the truth is that we tried to handle the program in a way that benefited the homeless. We had four buses going around the city, and anyone who was ejected was offered transportation to a shelter. We also formed a Homeless Outreach team of 25 volunteer officers who would approach homeless men and women in the system and try to offer counseling and information about the options available to them. Those who would accept help were put in touch with the social service agencies that seemed most appropriate in the individual case.

CTTY JOURNAL: How did you induce officers to embrace the community policing approach?

BRATTON: The challenge is to find ways to make problem-solving interesting to cops. We took what was formerly the 80 percent free patrol time on an average transit shift and created organized, results-oriented programs. By designing programs like Operation Enforcement, mini-sweeps, and decoy operations, we were able to give the cops the feeling of succeeding at an important job. We designed a system of attacking fare evasion that the cops would buy into. We put them in plain clothes. We gave them supervision, which, believe it or not, cops like. We put them in teams, which cops also enjoy. All of these things helped produce a new mindset.

CTTY JOURNAL: Did you have to bring in new officers to make your program work?

BRATTON: No. We reallocated resources and tried to maximize free time. We turned the Transit Police around before the new recruits came, so when they did they joined a group with high morale. That’s why Lee Brown is waiting until the fourth year of the community policing program in the NYPD before bringing in the five thousand new cops. First he is putting in the structure and training senior staff. That’s the way to do it. In a sense, we at transit helped buy him that time by beginning to reduce crime. That took some pressure off. But New York’s “Safe Streets” program cannot succeed, nor can any community policing effort, if it is perceived as just a police program. You also need education. You need help from social services. You need to work closely with the D.A., victims’ assistance agencies, and local community members most of all.

CTTY JOURNAL: How do you get the community to support your efforts?

BRATTON: Here, as everywhere, marketing is vital. We police have to get out, tell our story, and make the people our partners in what we are trying to do. Community policing can’t work without the intimate, sustained involvement of the community, and to get and keep that we have to convince people in the local neighborhoods—in talks, by advertising—that this is their program, in partnership with us.

We began an advertising and marketing campaign to let the public know that things were really changing in the subways. We had access to the TA’s advertising space in the subways and on the buses, and we made use of it. We also put out newsletters and videos for in-house use. Today’s kids don’t get their information from magazines and books—it’s the MTV generation. You have to reach them in the way that they are comfortable with.

I also did a couple of radio and TV spots which had more impact—particularly the radio—than we had dared to hope. I suppose the ultimate compliment was when Don Imus began doing a takeoff of me on his talk show. We had publicized our program of following up on convicted criminals when they came out of jail. We went to their homes and let them know that we knew they were back and encouraged them not to commit any more crimes in the subway. Imus’s takeoff on my ad went something like, “They won’t be committing crimes in the subway because we’ll be having coffee and bagels with them in their living rooms.” That was a great morale-booster.

CITY JOURNAL: What other measures did you initiate during your time at Transit?

BRATTON: Most of what I did was aimed at empowering our force to be aggressive and professional police officers. For example, we developed the so-called bust bus that was literally a police district on wheels with computers and fax machines, which allows police to process the large numbers of people being arrested for fare evasion by the mini-sweep teams at the site of their arrest. We also cut down on the incredible amount of time officers had to spend processing prisoners by the use of computers and fax machines. That kept more cops on the beat, and was a particularly satisfying innovation because the problem was of long standing and such an impediment to effective policing.

We fought for and got over a hundred new cars for the Transit Police, and we made sure that they were state-of-the-art. NYPD cops were pulling our guys over to admire their equipment. It may sound like a trivial thing, but it was important. For the first time our guys were feeling good about being a transit cop. They developed a pride in themselves and their work that was wonderful.

Another important program put into place by the TA and supported by me was the concept of a station manager. One individual is designated as responsible for the smooth operation of each station, and if there’s a police problem he reports it promptly to the Transit Police. Likewise if the Transit Police are aware of a nonpolice problem, they can report it to the station manager. The system works well. All of these things are important because they empower people down the line. When people are empowered, they feel a sense of ownership. They think they can make a difference, and they are right.

CITY JOURNAL: What major initiatives are you involved with in your new position in Boston?

BRATTON: One thing that s being accomplished by the department in the last two years is to reduce the homicide rate dramatically. In the first three months of 1990 there were 35 homicides in Boston. This year there were 12 during the same period. We have about 65 gangs in Boston with a total of 1,500 members, and today one-third of them are behind bars. We work together with the courts and with federal, state, and county authorities, to “fast track” gang prosecutions. We put them through the system within sixty days and throw them in jail. It’s a distinct possibility that we are going to end up with the lowest homicide rate in the country this year.

I should add that in Boston the gangs have been more concerned with turf issues and not so much with protecting their share of the drug trade, as in New York, or with expanding that trade to other cities, as the Crips and the Bloods have been doing across the West.

Despite our successes, it’s been a tough time here. We have declines not only in budget but also in the number of officers, down from 2,083 to 1,900. We must do more with less at a time of rising expectations. We need to free up time from the “911 monster” to be effective, more proactive cops. Our cops are stuck with responding to 911 calls 90 percent of the time, so there’s much less time available to do the things we should be doing and know will work.

CITY JOURNAL: How did you decide to become a cop?

BRATTON: Becoming a policeman was all I ever wanted to be. I don’t know why. There were no cops in my family. But from a very early age it was my one ambition.

CITY JOURNAL: As a beat officer, you were decorated for heroism.

BRATTON: I was awarded the Schroeder Medal, which is the highest award given by the Boston Police Department.

CITY JOURNAL: Is that the equivalent of New York’s Medal of Honor?


CTTY JOURNAL: In New York City you’ve got to die to get that!

BRATTON: Well, I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you.

CTTY JOURNAL: Not at all. How did you do it?

BRATTON: It was 1976. I was a patrol sergeant working in south Boston, and one day a guy came into a bank and bungled the hold-up attempt. When he saw that things were going badly, he grabbed an employee, put a gun to her head, and said he’d shoot if anyone tried to stop him. Then he dragged her out of the bank and started down the street.

I was on patrol nearby when the call came over the car radio, and I hurried over to the location. I was the first to respond. As it happened, I had just taken a course in hostage negotiation techniques. I was trying to remember what I had been taught as I went after him. The next thing I knew, we were face to face, eight feet apart. I had my revolver drawn, and he had his gun at the young woman’s head. I was trying to talk to him and make him understand, as I had been taught, that I wasn’t going to hurt him, and that he would be OK if he would just give up, but that there was no way I was going to leave. But he just kept swearing at me. Every so often he would take the pistol away from the young woman’s head and point it at me for a second, then stick it back into her temple. And I’m thinking, how am I going to get out of this? He’s either going to kill her or kill me, because he doesn’t know it but I’m a terrible shot with a .38—that’s one of the reasons I favor issuing the 9-millimeter—and then the worst possible thing happens. Out of the corner of my eye, I see two cops making their way toward him out of his line of sight. What they were doing was completely natural for a cop—you want to get involved—but it went against all of the training I had received. If the hostage-taker I’m negotiating with sees them, I know he’ll go berserk. Fortunately for me another supervisor was able to call them off.

It occurs to me that maybe part of the reason the gunman is nervous is that I’m pointing my pistol at him. Since there’s a very good chance I couldn’t hit him anyway, and some chance that I might hit the hostage by mistake, I promise we’re not going to hurt him, and to prove it I lower my pistol and continue negotiating with him. At this point I said, “Look, I’m serious. We have to take you in, but I’m promising you won’t get hurt.” And I drop my pistol. And he said, “OK, man. It’s over.” And he dropped his pistol and put up his hands, and it was all over.

CITY JOURNAL: Let’s get back to some training and policy issues. Are the Transit Police still trained in the same way as regular NYPD personnel?

BRATTON: No. When our recruits come out of the academy they undergo 13 weeks of training in Transit Police skills and responses. I have them working with veteran transit officers who love the transit force and training new officers. In the past new recruits were given the most dangerous assignments without training. Today, they are trained and worked into ongoing operations in a deliberate manner. The impact on morale has been tremendous.

The transit force used to be thought of as the third-ranking New York police department, after the city force and the housing police. Today we are no longer third-class or even second-class citizens. There is no longer a lottery to enter the Transit force; we compete on an equal footing with the other services. In the most recent recruitment cycle we had 29,000 applicants, the most ever.

CITY JOURNAL: Do you have a view on the idea of consolidating the Transit force with the regular police?

BRATTON: I strongly oppose it. First of all, the functions of the two forces are so different that they require different operational structures. Second, if the two were consolidated it would lead inexorably to a diminution of the number of cops in the transit system. They’d be pulled off to take on what seemed at any given moment to be higher-priority assignments. That would have a devastating effect on a troubled transit system which needs to rebuild confidence and won’t do it if the three million people who use it every day think they are putting themselves at risk.

CITY JOURNAL: Before you left, the Transit Authority performed an audit of the Transit Police that was in some instances quite critical. Would you care to comment?

BRATTON: Certainly. The criticisms were for the most part justified. The state comptroller complained that too few of our employees were civilians, and he is right. Civilians are cheaper and more efficient for many functions. But we have no control over that—the city budget office decides, and they always want to cut civilians. We have work that has to be done by someone, so it gets assigned to an officer because there are no civilians available. We found four hundred jobs we wanted to civilianize; the audit only located three hundred.

Other legitimate audit findings involved abuses of sick time and injury time regulations. We installed a stricter system of supervision. Supervisors are out performing regular home visits now. We are making progress, although negotiations with the union are always a challenge. The audit was a catalyst for change. We would have gotten around to looking at those areas ourselves, but our primary focus was elsewhere. The audit made us examine these things sooner than we had planned, and that was good.

CITY JOURNAL: What is the potential impact of new technologies on police work?

BRATTON: They are extremely promising. The continuing development of computer applications to police work may be the most important of all the technological improvements. We always have a fight at budget time over whether to invest in technology or hire additional men. And I try to make the point that while spending $2 million on hiring men will give us twenty men for one year, a $2 million investment in technology will provide efficiencies that give us the equivalent of another twenty cops year after year.

CITY JOURNAL: We’ve talked a lot about your efforts with the Transit Police. What do you regard as the most important indications of your success?

BRATTON: By the beginning of 1991, our initiatives had begun to yield a decrease in subway crime. Crime in the subway has now declined for 18 consecutive months. For the first four months of 1992, crime was down 30 percent compared with the same period in 1991; our ejections have risen from 2,000 to between 10,000 and 15,000 per month. We have issued dramatically more summonses. Arrest rates for serious crimes have begun to decline, because there is far less serious crime.

These tangible, quantifiable measures are important, but so are the intangibles. We now have a transit force in this city that is working effectively and whose morale is high. That will lead to a rise in public confidence in the Transit Police and in mass transit generally. Those are important positives for any town, but especially for New York City, where upwards of three million people use mass transit each day.



Police Chief William J. Bratton talks about reclaiming the subway
City Journal Summer 1992.
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