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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

How Bratton may engineer a way to more cops

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton addresses the NYPD

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton addresses the NYPD executives and presents an in-depth study of 'broken windows' and quality of life enforcement at the police academy in Queens on Thursday, April 30, 2015. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

So it's come down to Bill Bratton's long-awaited "re-engineering" report.

That's what the NYPD chief says will change Mayor Bill de Blasio's mind about hiring 1,000 more cops. De Blasio refused to do that in his proposed budget, saying Bratton would have to make do with his 34,000-member force.

That means all eyes are on consultant John Linder. He is one of Bratton's policing gurus, along with Robert Wasserman and George Kelling, the author of the "broken windows" policy, which says crack down on minor offenses to avoid major crimes.

Bratton has called Linder his "change agent." Linder probably knows as much, if not more, about the NYPD and policing as any civilian and many police officials.

He doesn't come cheap. Since Bratton returned as commissioner last year, Linder has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the privately funded, nonprofit Police Foundation to re-engineer the NYPD as he did 21 years ago when Bratton ran it under Rudy Giuliani.

In 1994, Linder wrote Bratton's seven crime strategies that many felt led to the city's dramatic drop in crime. But whereas the first re-engineering report was delivered four months after Bratton took office, we are now 16 months into his second tour and still waiting.

Police officials say circumstances now are more complex than two decades ago. In 1994, there was a single issue -- reducing crime.

That done, many communities' trust in the NYPD -- especially communities of color -- has not improved. An anti-police climate has been exacerbated by last year's apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and repeated instances across the country of young black men dying while in contact with police.

A police official said the NYPD is wrestling with how to hold down crime and win public trust while determining the resources needed to fulfill both.

Part of the re-engineering is being developed by Chief of Department James O'Neill, and it calls for a citywide squad to respond to such events as demonstrations. That would allow more cops to patrol precincts, including responding to radio calls and engaging in community policing.

That sounds like a strategy in sync with de Blasio's politics. Let's see whether Bratton is right about re-engineering as a way to change de Blasio's mind.

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