When William Bratton resumed control of the New York Police Department last week, two decades after his first term, it began the third installment of what the New York Times calls a “buddy pic” with John Miller that has covered both coasts and 20 years. Both men have repeatedly moved between the public and private sectors: Bratton as a police chief and a corporate security guru, Miller as his jack-of-all-trades aide-de-camp and a journalist. In Bratton's first turn in New York, Miller left the local NBC affiliate to serve as his deputy commissioner for public information, a job that required him not only to act as the department's chief spokesman, but also to manage his boss's public image for the insatiably demanding local media.
Nine years later, Miller followed Bratton to Los Angeles, where the two established L.A.'s antiterrorism program after the 9/11 attacks. With Bratton's re-ascension in New York, Miller plans a similar portfolio: Part policy expert, part palace guard, he will assume control of the Intelligence Division or counterterrorism unit or perhaps both. These are two expansive and essential operations that in recent years have drawn praise for their successes and fierce attacks from critics for their excesses. Bratton and Miller have a shared sense of ambition, a mutual respect, and a like-minded vision of the world. “Bratton is a big-picture guy, he's very good at disrupting things, but he's not necessarily good at getting things done himself,” said one former police public information officer. “John is a doer, a hands-on guy. That's what made him a great reporter.”