What do the fields of medicine and law enforcement have in common? More than you might imagine. Both are steeped in preventive practices and are governed by a “try to do no harm” credo, said Commissioner William Bratton, a former two-time New York City Police Commissioner Public Safety, and currently the Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk.
Bratton, also an author and lecturer, gave a talk entitled, “Risk in the 21st Century” on March 22, 2018 in Palm Beach at an intimate breakfast attended by members of The Palm Beach Police Foundation and Palm Beach Police Department. A 50-year veteran, “Bratton is like a rock star in law enforcement, an industry that has few such individuals,” said Palm Beach Town Manager and Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin.
Bratton’s medical metaphors are informed by a philosophy of policing originated by Sir Robert Peel, a former British Prime Minister. Peel was considered an advanced thinker in the reform of British criminal law, its prisons, its police, and fiscal and economic policies. Central to his vision was the prevention of crime and disorder, and to make government a positive instrument for bringing about social reform. With the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, Peel laid the foundation for modern professional police force, which has been a guidepost for Bratton throughout his storied career.
Proactivity, collaboration and partnership are the ways to improve safety. “Focus on causes and prevention and collaborate with the citizens in the community that want to be involved,” Bratton said.
Citing an example, Bratton recalled when New York City was practically bankrupt during the 1970s, and how the NYPD could not afford to buy bullet-proof vests for its officers. Support came in 1971 when The New York City Police Foundation was established by business and civic leaders as an independent, non-profit organization aimed at strengthening services and improving public safety in New York City.
The NYCPF was the first municipal foundation of its kind in the country and has served as a model for similar organizations that include The Palm Beach Police Foundation, which he praised highly for its provision of critical resources that help the Palm Beach Police Department keep pace with rapidly evolving technology, strategies, and training.
Bratton stressed the impact technology and terrorism has had on his profession, which is a calling, he said. “A new world dawned on September 11 with the attack of Al Qaeda. Policing changed on that day. Since then, terrorism has evolved. Isis is like Madison Avenue with its understanding of how to use social media a recruitment tool to inspire, direct and enable attacks worldwide,” he said.
“The challenges we face now are unlike any in the history of the world. Our efforts to professionalize have accelerated. In this era of precision policing, we must have intelligence-led prevention, predictive policing and active community involvement. In addition to leadership, resources are the secret behind successful crime management. Collaborate or perish. We must go the distance no matter where that takes us,” Bratton said.
“I really enjoyed his talk,” said Palm Beach Police Officer Ryan Burgoon. “He has his finger right on the pulse. Proactivity is such a necessity. He spoke to exactly how police, in general, feel.” Burgoon said.
Major Nick Caristo worked as a New York City Police Officer from 1985 till 2005 under Bratton before joining the Palm Beach Police Department in 2005. “I remember him and his “broken windows” theory of taking care of the little things as a crime prevention measure. It worked. It’s an honor for me to meet the man I worked under. He’s had such an impressive career,” Caristo said.