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Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton Delivers Major Address on Police Leadership at John Jay College

New York, NY, October 22, 2008 -- William Bratton, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, brought his views on cutting-edge police leadership to the annual Patrick V. Murphy Lecture hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Leadership Academy. The October 22 lecture drew a standing-room-only audience to hear Bratton speak about “transformative leadership.”

In introducing Chief Bratton, President Jeremy Travis said, “No conversation about police leadership in this country would be complete without Bill Bratton. He has brought accountability and transparency to the police function. He believes in — and practices — external accountability along with internal communication.” Bratton served as New York City Police Commissioner from 1994 to 1996 under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Bratton, who described his presentation as “a discussion rather than a lecture,” mused that the talk should take its title from an old Broadway hit, “gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.” Those who put their trust in him as a leader, Bratton said, “have an expectation that things are going to change for the better.”

Leaders, Bratton noted, are in a position to transform organizations. “I think of myself as a transformative leader. I see crises as opportunities. People expect that leaders will create change and be risk takers.”

“As a police leader,” Bratton said, “he has focused on decentralizing leadership down through the organization. My leadership style is that you can’t do it alone. You have to get the right people in place as quickly as possible. You inspire them and they inspire you. You allow them to take risks, to make mistakes, and then you reward their successes.”

Recalling some of his predecessors in the New York City Police Department, including Murphy, Robert McGuire, Benjamin Ward and Lee P. Brown, Bratton noted that they had very different personalities and each faced different challenges, from corruption and reform to the crack epidemic to the implementation of community policing. “What I shared with my predecessors was a belief that we could make change,” Bratton said.

Chief Bratton also spoke about leadership moving forward in a new era following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Bratton said, “It took leadership to refocus an organization that had been focused on controlling crime and disorder.” In the post-9/11 era, he added, “leadership is going to have to ensure that we get it right. We have to take some risks, and we need to have leadership that understands the importance of working together to make change.”

According to Bratton, having moved through different eras of policing from the professional model through problem solving-community policing models to intelligence- led policing, the next era will be characterized as Predictive Policing. This model will be based on a strong capacity to predict crimes as based on the development of timely, accurate and robust intelligence about all crimes and all hazards with terrorism being included as a crime.

Reflecting on a 38-year law enforcement career that shows no sign of ending soon, Bratton said he loves, lives and breathes policing. “There’s nothing that has such an immediate impact on people’s lives as policing. I believe in my profession. I believe that police matter.”

This lecture is part of “Perspectives on Police Leadership,” an ongoing series made possible through a generous donation by Patrick V. Murphy, a past Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.

About the John Jay Leadership Academy
Established in 2007, the Academy focuses exclusively on the practice of leadership in order to meet the leadership needs of an ever-more challenging world. Its mission is to develop next-generation leaders who populate a national community of practice dedicated to enhancing the safety of the public while promoting justice in a free society. It seeks to provide a global forum and professional study for public safety executive leadership from both the public and private security sectors.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit