In his book, Turnaround (1998), William Bratton exclusively depicts the social discomposure in America’s major cities. He indicates his early life in Boston and his tenure at previous policing jobs that illustrates his vast desire and experience in dealing with crimes. He is a successful raconteur telling the autobiography significant police commissioner of the 20th century. His personal life is inspirational and depicts the self-improvement tradition of the Americans. He indicates Bill Bratton’s performance in an interesting but rather embroidered manner. The book is arranged roughly chronologically and intensifying to record chief changes in crime in American cities and the experiences of the so-called ‘participant-observers’ in the NYPD. Though it seemed foolhardy to fight and win a crime in every borough, Bill successfully committed himself towards delivering the promise that he had made to the people. William Bratton indicates that Bill was able to achieve various changes in New York City as far as security and crime are concerned.
He, however, depicts the former police commissioners as failures by indicating how Bill could easily change the entire scenario within a short epoch. Murders fell by 50%, theft by 35%, felony crime by 39% while public confidence in the NYPD rose from 37% to 73%. Additionally, job contentment in the police section reached an unsurpassed point. William Bratton does this to inform readers the significance of changing organizational culture and strategies. Additionally, he indicates how such changes can be beneficial to the society and state at large.
Collaboration is the game changer. Everyone is connected to one another and have interests in the police department of their state. A fully collaborative, networked and highly motivated police department will exhibit exemplary performance. However, William Bratton clearly indicates that an experienced and highly skilled commissioner can efficiently transform even the abject police department. Police commissioners and other managers must learn to maneuver and thrive in a networked world failure to which they are destined to perish. Effective resource management and utilization are portrayed as significant aspects for the triumph of the police department.
The book gets interesting and arouses the readers’ curiosity and attention when Bratton describes the police creativities that led to the achievements witnessed in the NYPD. Computer mapping was used to identify areas delinquency hotspots and then the crimes would be cleared using all the tools of law enforcement. The "quality of life enforcement" as an initiative was aimed at curbing minor crimes such as prostitution, squeegeeing and panhandling. It emotionally and intellectually engages the reader as they try to figure out how the initiatives worked. This makes Bratton's philosophies about curtailing crime to grab the attention of all persons concerned about crimes as well as those involved in law enforcement.
The book gets fascinating and astonishing when Bratton elucidates the form of power politics played in the police department. It is the expectation of many that Bratton would keep silent about all the police’s failures and the undesirable things that recurrently occurred at the police headquarters. He instead details the squabbling that regularly happens between new guards and old guards. The old guards view with a lot of aggression the newer officers who try to advance rapidly and frustrate their progress. They do this in a Machiavellian manner that is also exciting to read about. He does not pull any blows in unfolding the confrontations he had with the old guards at the police department in Boston and his celebrated skirmishes with Rudolph when he was the head of the NYPD. I was disconcerted and amazed by this hardball played by government officials and officers. Bratton clearly and cleverly uncovers that power-seekers often receive tribute for creativities that did not originate from their own exertions and ideas. New Yorkers could confirm that crime levels decreased and welfare improved in New York. Many officers felt that Bratton should not receive credit for these changes. The politicization of the issue led to his resignation after twenty-seven months.
Additionally, Bratton uses blog-style portions, which he intermingle with fundamental writings that make the book very resilient. He, however, fails to exclusively and comprehensively the "Broken Windows" theory that was commonly implemented by the police department. I have read works from Alex Vitale and Mark Greif who elucidate the "Broken Windows" theory, how it works and contextualizes the images of police ferocity against criminals within the alterations in policing strategies. Bratton believes that the acceptance of petty crimes will lead to the increment in the number of serious crimes. Just like other authors, Bratton believes that the examination of crime statistics by time, place and other factors is very effective in discovering how to organize police resources. However, all these readings fail to integrate Kauffman's ‘Theology of Consensus’ which would have enabled readers to understand and appreciate least splendid but vital aspects of the police department.
As elucidated above, William Bratton successfully engages the audience in thinking about the possibility of having responsible cops and a functional police department. He does so by explaining and revealing how new strategies changed the entire operations of the NYPD and other police departments in America. Though not flawless, the book is fascinating, informing and interesting for learners and law enforcers.
Bratton, W., & Knobler, P. (1998). Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic. New York: Random House.