NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton Offers Advice To The Baltimore Police Department
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller appeared on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday morning to discuss the similarities between the Eric Garner case and what is currently transpiring in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray after he was apprehended by police. Garner died as a result of asphyxiation after allegedly being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD police officer. Gray was apprehended by Baltimore police and, though it's currently unclear when and how he was injured, had a majority of his spinal cord severed and died as a result. During the interview, Miller and Bratton had some advice for Baltimore police.
Host Bob Schieffer started off the interview by asking Bratton about the progress of the Garner investigation as well as what the NYPD had learned from the experience. Miller was the first to offer concrete advice:
I think I would give very basic advice, which is what we learned time and time again... [is] create your relationships under non-stressful circumstances. These crises, each one represents an opportunity to build dialogue with the key community leaders. But the problem is if you start to try and develop those relationships after some terrible event has happened and you're behind the eight ball, that's a problem.
Rather than addressing a strained relationship at the absolute last moments or while in damage control, Miller urged the Baltimore Police Department as well as units across the country to do their outreach immediately. He continued:
When the phone rings at three o'clock in the morning, if — if that's the night you're exchanging business cards, you've lost already.
Bratton said that every "event" when a police officer interacts with the community — including during arrests — gives the opportunity for more dialogue. According to Bratton, arrests rates have fallen at a rate of nearly 2.5 million overall from 2009 to 2014, which while great, affects their communication. Bratton told Face the Nation:
[That's] almost two and a half million fewer arrests reflecting the police of necessity don't have to be quite as active in many of the communities in the country. So losing, unfortunately, some of the good news, but each one of these events offers us an opportunity to have more dialogue, more discussion to use the expression for us to see each other better than we have in the past.
Already, the Baltimore Police Department has been incredibly active in reconfirming their support of free speech and citizens' right to protest. Almost every day, the BPD media department releases a tweet that states the department is "committed to protecting everyone's constitutional rights to protest." Recently, however, the protests have turned violent, signaling unspoken tensions between police and citizens and resulting in the arrest of at least 12 demonstrators.