TURNAROUND by William Bratton


How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic
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 The former police commissioner of New York City tells all. Bratton grew up in working-class Dorchester, outside Boston, and from childhood on was obsessed with the idea of becoming a police officer. By the time he was in his early 30s, Bratton had worked his way up from beat cop to second in command of the Boston police force. Even back then, his ambitions got him in trouble with the mayor (as they later would with New York's Rudy Giuliani), and he was transferred to a new post overseeing transit cops. Bratton became an expert in the field and came to new York in 1990 to head up the city's transit police, a job he loved. He got the transit cops a little respect and instituted a successful method of quickly arresting and processing turnstile- jumpers--who often commit crimes on the subway. He returned briefly to Boston to become police commissioner, then came back to New York in 1994 to fill the same position there. The marriage between Bratton and newly elected mayor Giuliani was uneasy from the start, and Bratton's instant popularity caused friction. The top cop claimed from day one that he would reduce crime and immediately instituted ideas that he credits partially to James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, authors of a 1992 groundbreaking study on community policing. As any New Yorker could attest, crime did go down and the quality of life improved. But who should receive credit for these changes became a political issue, which ended with Bratton's resignation after 27 months. While much of the second half of the book is caught up in a political showdown that might be of limited interest to those outside the Big Apple, Bratton does have a lot to say about police and society, how to respond to issues regarding race, and how to keep New York's finest precisely that. For a man often accused of grandstanding, Bratton (with the help of James Carville's and Mary Matalin's coauthor Knobler) has written a surprisingly readable and reasonable book.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-45251-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997


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