NEW YORK, NY – NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton on Wednesday refused to back off his harsh criticism of ex-top cop Ray Kelly – and blamed the media for stirring up a “tempest in a teapot” after he blasted his predecessor on a talk show.
“I stand by it,” Bratton, 66, said during a news conference at One Police Plaza, defending his claim that he inherited a department in which morale was in the toilet, largely because of Kelly’s management.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time in focus groups in every rank of the department and the union leadership … and relative to my comments about morale, [they were] based largely on what I was told and what I’ve heard,” Bratton said in his first public comments since trashing Kelly’s tenure.
“In terms of my comment about [morale], I stand by it. That was not meant as a shot at Ray, that was just a fact as I understand it,” he said, adding that the pair simply have different leadership styles.
“Do I have differences in leadership and management opinions, about how some of that is achieved? Certainly. And I’m entitled to my opinion,” Bratton said. “I think its quite clear we have different opinions about the stop, question, frisk effectiveness in the city.”
He then took a shot at the media for turning the controversy into a “slug fest” between himself and Kelly’s supporters.
“I don’t think either he or I feel that there’s anything personal here. He knows how the game is played with you guys [in the media] as well as I do. He was dealing with it for many years so, we’ll try to stay out of it to [not] give you additional fuel for the fire,” he said. “He’s constantly a professional, I think I’m a professional.”
Bratton also said he had “the greatest respect” for Kelly, 72, and ex-Mayor Bloomberg for the record crime drop on their watch.
Bratton said he has bumped into Kelly about four times at restaurants and other events, including an Arianna Huffington book party, but has not spoken to him since his critical comments made headlines.
Mayor de Blasio also weighed in, backing Bratton and repeating his campaign refrain that stop and frisk broke down trust between the NYPD and minority neighborhoods and harmed department morale.
“The stop and frisk policy was broken and it created in many neighborhoods a rift between police and community and it also made the job of the average police officer more difficult – that’s an absolutely factual statement,” Hizzoner said.
“Now that we’ve moved away from that broken policy… I think the average officer’s having a much better experience. I think morale is starting to come back,” he said, singling Bratton out for praise.
”Commissioner Bratton has sent a very positive message from the very beginning – both of his respect of the men and women of the NYPD and for the notion that we have to have a real bond between police and community.”
Also Wednesday, PBA president Pat Lynch backed Bratton’s claim that morale was terrible when the new commissioner took over from Kelly.
“Recent news stories have raised the issue of police morale. Police Commissioner Bratton was absolutely correct when he said that morale of the police force is awful,” he said.
The union big blamed manpower cutbacks, Kelly’s management and – without naming them – deBlasio’s and other pols’ relentless criticism of stop and frisk during the campaign.
“Morale is bad, in part, because of the heavy-handed way that past management dealt with our members from within the department. Furthermore, reduced staffing at the NYPD put public safety and our officers at risk further impacting morale,” Lynch said.
“And then, police officers became the undeserved target of politically ambitious officials who blamed them for the failed stop and frisk policy instead of those who instituted it. Being blamed for having to implement something you disagree with is a morale crusher,” Lynch said.
The day before, Kelly’s brother Donald, 79, took to WABC Radio’s “Curtis & Kuby’’ show to gripe that Bratton is just jealous of his younger bro’s career.
“I think it’s a cheap shot by Bratton. I think he’s paranoid of Ray and always has been, and he’s a back-slapping, smiling guy,’’ Donald Kelly said.
“I’m mad as hell, so I’ll try to calm down .?.?. I never cared for Bratton, and I think I’m right about that.”
In the talk show interview broadcast Sunday, Bratton criticized Kelly and Bloomberg, saying their overuse of stop-and-frisk had killed NYPD morale by the time Bratton took over.
“Morale coming into this department was awful,’’ Bratton told WABC/Channel 7’s “Up Close with Diana Williams.”
Ray Kelly has refused to comment on Bratton’s remarks
From The New York Post