Benefits and Baloney of Bratton Babble

William J. Bratton

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With all this hot air and hype about Bill Bratton, the much hailed American ‘Super Cop’, the BBC recently examined What Los Angeles can teach the UK on riot control.

It’s an issue that I first touched on back in December 2010 – Bratton on Britain’s Cops – and I’m still convinced that despite all the media hype and political rhetoric, the subject matter is mostly a politically derived smokescreen.

If the Rt.Hon. David Cameron thinks Bratton can provide a sudden magic fix to all the problems of UK policing, he better think again. The Home Secretary Theresa May has defended the Govt’s approach to policing however; she fails to acknowledge that many of the ‘perceived’ problems have actually been created by successive governments over recent decades. She says “Ministers must ensure the police know what the public expect of them”.

I think you will find Ms May that the police actually know “what the public expect” the problem as ever is; trying to understand what the police managers and their political masters bloody require… Factors that change mostly at the drop of the public’s fickle hat of popularity and are based almost wholly upon media influenced issues!

David Cameron has pledged a review of government policies following last week’s riots, to ensure they are bold enough to fix a “broken society”…Social problems that have been festering for decades”… (bbc.co.uk)

I was enlightened recently to a paper on Bratton’s Management style by my old academic mate Allcoppedout . The  paper which was published by Yale University back in February 2008 under the title; William Bratton and the NYPDCrime Control through Middle Management Reform (see here) is worthy of a read…

The failure was the organization’s leadership over the previous 20 to 25 years. They wasted your most valuable resource: your human beings; that’s what they wasted—by micromanaging, by setting systems in place that stifled creativity…. With the best of intentions, they set up a structure that was meant to fail as a crime-fighting mechanism. It was built for failure… (Broken Windows | Allcoppedouts Blog)

Anything sound all too familiar to UK policing? You may well spot some similarities in the issues that impacted upon police in the USA and now in the UK however, as I pointed out early this week in High Street Problems and Hill Street Blues, that’s all they really are, similarities.

The differences of issues perceived or actual, are sufficiently dissimilar so as to almost preclude any adoption of their resulting methods on this side of the pond. By all means see if there is in fact some “lessons to be learned” and if so, bloody well learn them for a change. But don’t blindly follow the great god of American Management methodology after all, much of it has resulted in many of the problems we actually face today.

One of the biggest issues that really gets me is; as a Nation and society, we are mostly too stupid and intellectually challenged to make any real and lasting change to the predicaments we face. Whilst we continually allow ourselves to be tied up in our predominant materialistic self-interested ideology and lifestyles, we run the distinct probability that history will do nothing more than repeat itself… A sad factor which becomes painfully more obvious the older you get.

Being a fairly cosmopolitan person and something of a cultural adventurer, I’m more than happy to sample Bratton’s New York Deli Baloney on Wry with Cream Cheese and Dill Pickle however; my staple is likely to remain the humble but tried and tested Peelian Policing Cheese & Tomato sandwich!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 15-08-2011, in Leadership & Management, Police and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My guess is Bratton would want to bring ACPO, Police Improvement and thirty plus chief constable hierarchies to an abrupt end, and look to improve the quality of cops recruited to help flatten the supervision system – if he was actually hiered to do a national job.

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