Call it maturity. Call it wisdom. After 22 years, Bill Bratton is finally offering a public mea culpa for his feud with Rudy Giuliani that led to Bratton’s firing, calling his actions his “biggest professional mistake.”
“The mistake I made with the mayor was . . . I didn’t stay close enough to him and to his vision,” Bratton recently told CNBC.
Bratton’s explanation is somewhat misleading. His and Giuliani’s vision was the same: to dramatically lower NYC’s crime rate, which Bratton did — a trend that continues today. Bratton’s problem with Giuliani was about ego, about who deserved the credit for the drop in crime. Between them, credit became a zero-sum game.
Indeed, the more Bratton succeeded, the more contentious his relationship with Giuliani became. Take the Feb. 6, 1995, profile in The New Yorker titled “The C.E.O. Cop,” which featured Bratton.
No saint himself, Giuliani retaliated by ordering Bratton’s then-spokesman, John Miller, to fire the staff in the NYPD’s public information office. Instead, Miller — now deputy commissioner for counterterrorism — resigned.
That fall, Bratton announced he planned to celebrate the NYPD’s 150th anniversary with a parade down Broadway. Giuliani went along until he discovered that the date Bratton had selected for the parade happened to fall on Bratton’s birthday. So ended the anniversary parade.
Also, there was Bratton’s mug on the cover of the Jan. 15, 1996, issue of Time magazine. The headline read: “Finally, we’re winning the war against crime. Here’s why.”
Two months later, Giuliani shoved Bratton out Police Plaza’s revolving door.
Bratton sucked it up for five years in the private sector while Giuliani belittled his accomplishments. Bratton eventually headed to Los Angeles, where he was police chief for seven years before returning to NYC as commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Maybe with maturity or wisdom, Giuliani might someday offer a mea culpa, or at least explain why he has become a bloated caricature of his former self as he shills for Donald Trump, making ridiculous comments about the president’s policies, his tweets and his girlfriends while denigrating the law enforcement agencies he was once a part of.
Don’t hold your breath, though. Giuliani seems to be loving it.