LONDON, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Bill Bratton, who led the police in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, says he’d want to be London’s top cop if Britain’s home secretary would let him apply.
“If it was open to people other than British citizens, it would be something I would seriously consider,” Bratton told The Guardian.
Home Secretary Theresa May, responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales, including policing, insists candidates for the vacant post be British.
Bratton told friends he would even be willing to become a British citizen if that would help him get the job, government officials told the newspaper.
Bratton, 63, who lives in New York and is chairman of Kroll Associates, an international security firm, is understood to have been Prime Minister David Cameron’s top choice to run London’s Metropolitan Police Service, known as Scotland Yard, The Guardian said.
But Bratton’s tough measures to deal with street crime in U.S. cities are a poor fit with Britain’s much less aggressive traditions of policing, critics argued.
Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland — and a leading candidate to fill the vacant Scotland Yard job — told The Independent Sunday he saw few lessons for Britain in America’s experience of quelling urban disorder.
“I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them,” he said, alluding to Los Angeles.
“If you’ve got 400 gangs, then you’re not being very effective,” he said.
He also said the U.S. “style of policing” and U.S. levels of violence were “so fundamentally different from here” that Bratton’s successes wouldn’t transfer.
Bratton told The Guardian his policing concept was inspired by Britain’s Robert Peel, who helped create modern policing in the 19th century, leading British officers to be known ever since as “bobbies.”
Bratton also told the newspaper Orde himself was successful as an outsider, as an Englishman going in to run Northern Ireland’s police force from 2002 to 2009.
“I find it ironical, the hue and cry about outsiders,” Bratton said.
Instead of being police commissioner, Bratton will advise Cameron on gangs and crime, officials said.
Cameron was expected to say in a speech Monday that last week’s riots pointed to Britain’s “slow-motion moral collapse,” The Guardian said.
Labor Party leader Ed Miliband was expected to make a rival speech denouncing as “gimmicks” Cameron’s ideas, including adopting “zero tolerance” policing on Britain’s streets.
British courts were open Sunday for the first time as judges continued processing suspected looters and rioters.