As part of his series on crime victims in Slate, journalist Mark Obbie profiles Susan Herman, who serves as the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for collaborative policing. Appointed by William Bratton in January 2014, the police commissioner set an idealistic agenda for Herman to redefine both policing and the way the department treats crime victims. Herman, a longtime advocate for crime victims, takes a progressive approach to policing.
Her appointment was part of Bratton’s attempt to repair the breach between police and citizens in the city's most crime-threatened neighborhoods by focusing on racial tensions. Solving police departments' race problems, Bratton has declared, is “the issue of our times,” especially among citizens feeling “overpoliced and underprotected“—those citizens, in other words, at greatest risk of both imprisonment and victimization. Whether Herman can ultimately deliver on Bratton's mission to replace brute crime suppression with racially sensitive crime prevention could well determine if there's any realistic way out of the policing crisis in which the entire nation is now stuck.