Profile: Bill Bratton, police chief

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The Independent Online

Is it a bird, is it a plane...?

No, it's supercop Bill Bratton. He's flying into London next week to advise the government on tackling gangs and violent crime. More than that, he's said he'll happily change his nationality to grab the top job at the Met.



Is that likely?

David Cameron wholeheartedly approves, in fact the only reason Boston-born Bratton doesn't currently hold the reins at Scotland Yard is because the Home Office blocked his appointment in July, saying the job should go to a British national. For all of Cameron's admiration, though, he'll never be obsequious enough to become his Number One Fan – that crown falls to Bratton himself. "I think of myself as a transformational leader who changes cultures," he extolled.



Do we need Bratton?

As the riots took hold, Britons could have been forgiven for thinking that they lived in a particularly nasty district of Gotham. As a result, the public is clamouring for everything from a deeper understanding of the underclass's needs to a prolonged series of public executions. What is clear, however, is that our police are not particularly keen on this outsider. Even his role in an advisory capacity is a "slap in the face", they say.



What changes will Bratton make?

In the laboured rhetoric of official statements to the press, riot-hit boroughs were told that they could expect "robust policing". They were told that they were being "policed robustly" over and over again, to the point where the meaning of robust became dilute, strange and altogether devalued. Should Bratton have his way, that'll be replaced by "zero tolerance". During his tenure as Commissioner of the NYPD, he used the "broken windows theory" – thrusting resources into punishing petty crime – to halve the number of murders in the city. He joined the LAPD in 2002 and the rate of serious crime dropped in each consecutive year he was there. The thought is that if he can handle gang warfare between the Crips and the Bloods, he'll be able to stop a bunch of 15-year-olds tearin' it up in Poundland.

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