He was widely credited with driving down crime in America's biggest city, and now he's being considered as a candidate to run the police department of Britain's largest metropolis. But could Bill Bratton bring the techniques that revolutionized New York Police Department to Scotland Yard?
At a time when neighborhoods throughout London are roiled by rioting, the city's Metropolitan Police Service is without top leadership. The two top leaders resigned after the department's reputation was tarnished by the News Corp. cell phone hacking scandal. British Prime Minister David Cameron and other policy makers are looking for a new commissioner who might help lift the dark cloud from over the agency's name.
In ABC News conversations during the past two weeks with officials involved in the decision-making process, some fingered Bratton, now the chairman of powerhouse investigative firm Kroll Associates, as a dark-horse candidate. Those officials and other former officials said the British government had been weighing an outsider, even a military leader or an American, to bring a fresh perspective and firm leadership to the organization.
As commissioner of the NYPD under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s, Bratton instituted a zero-tolerance policing approach that targeted quality-of-life violations that had long been tolerated in New York. The management techniques he pioneered are now widely used across the U.S.
In deciding who runs the more than 30,000-officer Metropolitan Police, at stake is not only the policing of London, but the setting of national police policies, the security for the 2012 London Olympics and significant aspects of the control and direction of the nation's counter-terrorism program, which has been effective in curbing fundamentalist threats inside the country.
Bratton, 63, has acknowledged he would welcome the challenge of running the agency. Bratton told The Daily Beast that he was "interested in looking at that position," adding, "It's one of the most prestigious positions in democratic policing in the world."
But he has also acknowledged he has not been in contact with the officials in London. A spokesman confirmed to ABC News today that officials had not interviewed him.
"Mr. Bratton, the current Chairman of Kroll, and the former New York City Police Commissioner and Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, can confirm that he was never contacted by any member of the British government relative to his interest in the position of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, one of the most significant, complex and important police leadership positions in the world," said the spokesman. "He would certainly have considered it an honor to have been given the opportunity to apply."