Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has challenged criminal justice researchers to recognize that “cops count” in reducing crime. In a keynote address yesterday to the U.S. National Institute of Justice’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., Bratton criticized crime researchers who minimize the role of law enforcement and contend that demographic and economic factors largely drive crime rates. The chief predicted that national crime rates will continue rising, partly because the “federal government is now someplace else,” supporting antiterror programs at the expense of supporting law enforcement improvements.
“Better police management” such as the CompStat system that Bratton pioneered as New York City police commissioner can succeed in suppressing crime by responding quickly to inevitable crime spikes, he contended. Bratton boasted that he had been able to oversee crime declines both in New York City and Los Angeles, in the latter case despite the fact that violent crime is rising in many other cities. Among his targets yesterday was University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, who in his book “Freakonomics” said that crime was dropping both before Bratton became New York commissioner and after he was “pushed to resign” by then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Bratton noted that in his current role as chairman of the Police Executive Research Forum, he supports well-done research on the role of law enforcement.