Former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton says Rudy Giuliani 'really wanted to be the police commissioner' during New York City mayoralty: book

Former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton says Rudy Giuliani 'really wanted to be the police commissioner' during New York City mayoralty: book
Then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, right, speaks during a news conference alongside then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton at New York City Hall on February 22, 1995.AP Photo/Ed Bailey
  • Bratton said ex-NYC mayor Giuliani "really wanted to be the police commissioner," per a new book.
  • The writer Andrew Kirtzman chronicled the former prosecutor's mayoralty in the book "Giuliani."

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "really wanted to be the police commissioner" during the ex-mayor's tenure, according to a new book.

Giuliani — who led New York City from January 1994 to December 2001 — took over the reigns during a time when the city retained its status as a center of finance, media, and the arts, but also continued to struggle with high crime rates that had ballooned in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although Giuliani's predecessor, David Dinkins, had hired thousands of new police officers during his term in office, the Republican executive ran on reducing crime in his successful 1993 mayoral campaign against Dinkins.

And Giuliani tapping Bratton as the city's top cop was a key element of his commitment to tackling violent crime, which the writer Andrew Kirtzman detailed in his new book, "Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America's Mayor."

Bratton's tenure began in January 1994.


"There was no one in city government as crucial to Giuliani's success as the police commissioner," Kirtzman wrote. "Arrests shot up 25 percent in the first two years of the administration, and murders plummeted by almost 40 percent, a far greater reduction than most other cities were experiencing with the end of the crack epidemic. The streets grew safer: the number of gunshot victims in the city plunged by 35 percent."

He continued: "Giuliani watched with a wary eye as the media credited his commissioner for the remarkable turnaround. The mayor worked virtually around the clock; he turned up at every major fire, every major crime scene, every water main break, any hint of an emergency."

As time went on, Bratton's poll numbers registered higher than Giuliani's, and his press coverage was more positive than that of the hard-charging ex-federal prosecutor. Giuliani then sought to control more of Bratton's schedule, while also seeking to approve the commissioner's appointments and internal promotions.

"The mayor really wanted to be the police commissioner," Bratton expressed in the book. "Denny Young [the mayor's counsel] and Peter Powers reinforced that he was the police commissioner, and I was the first deputy."

"Anybody on whatever enemies list they had, everything had to be cleared through them," Bratton added.


Bratton stated that he was taken aback when Giuliani's mayoral deputies in 1994 told him not to attend an event featuring then-President Bill Clinton at a police precinct in Brooklyn.

"They were snubbing the president of the United States over some pissing match," Bratton said in the book.

Bratton would eventually leave his position in April 1996 after he was featured on the cover of Time magazine earlier that year, an act that caused the relationship between the police commissioner and Giuliani to sour, according to The New York Times.

'An Excellent Police Commissioner'

Former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton says Rudy Giuliani 'really wanted to be the police commissioner' during New York City mayoralty: book
Bill Bratton, left, speaks during a press conference with New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on December 5, 2013.AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Bratton would eventually serve a second stint as New York City's police commissioner.

From January 2014 to September 2016, Bratton led the department under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio.


In a 2015 interview with journalist Geraldo Rivera, Giuliani praised Bratton's latter tenure, calling him "an excellent police commissioner."

Giuliani, who was a frequent critic of de Blasio's mayoralty, said Bratton was "about the best thing we got," as he remarked on the then-mayor's shaky relationship with the city's powerful police unions.

In a 2018 interview with CNBC, Bratton said that he "regretted" the way his tenure ended during Giuliani's first mayoral term.

"I regretted that, I still regret it," Bratton expressed at the time. "The mistake I made with the mayor was, using the term, I didn't 'stay in his headlights' — I didn't stay close enough to him and to his vision."

Bratton also served as the Boston police commissioner from June 1993 to January 1994 and the police commissioner of Los Angeles from October 2002 to October 2009.


While speaking with the New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd last year, Bratton remarked that Giuliani had "made a caricature of himself" as one of former President Donald Trump's most fervent allies.

"As somebody who's got a big ego, speaking about another guy with a big ego, I can't understand how he allowed himself to be subsumed by Trump," Bratton said.