Bill Bratton: What Beat Cops Can Teach Counterterrorists

More

Watch the full video of this session

Former New York and Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton discussed the connection between police work and counterterrorism in a conversation with ABC News' Pierre Thomas at the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, D.C. He described how, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, city police departments began to prioritize fighting terror and federal agencies learned from the police practice of focusing on prevention rather than response.
Washington Ideas Forum
Bratton, who has worked in city police departments since 1970 and is widely credited with helping to bring a historic reduction of crime to New York in the 1990s, said that much of the nationwide reduction in crime came after a revolution in police thinking. It was "the belief that police can prevent crime, we shouldn't just be responding to it." A generation of police leaders, of which Bratton was a leader, learned to be proactive by developing sources, working with communities, and "relentless follow-up." That same model, he said, has now spread to federal counterterrorism agencies. "If you think about it, that's the recipe for dealing with terrorism."


While federal agencies were eager to learn from his police methodology, Bratton says he struggled to get those agencies to reciprocate. He and other police chiefs were "fighting for a place at the table where it related to fighting a war against terrorism," he said. "It took a lot of addling, political maneuvering." He said that police departments still struggle to get the attention and resources of federal agencies such as the FBI when fighting terrorism. "There is still not a seamless" information-sharing system accessible to both federal and local agencies, although "it's being worked on" and "we're certainly in a much better place than we were after Sept. 11."

Bratton reminded listeners at the Newseum that preventative police work does not end terrorism, and that nothing likely could. "Crime is always going to be with us, terrorism is always going to be with us, but you can mitigate it very successfully," he said. Police work is a treatment, not a cure. "You start withdrawing the medication, that patient is potentially going to suffer again."

Full video below

Jump to comments
Presented by

Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

Just In