New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Bill Bratton has resigned as the city's police commissioner, effectively ending his 45-year career in law enforcement. His duties will be taken over by Chief of Department James O'Neill in September.
In a statement on Tuesday, de Blasio thanked Bratton for his service and also spoke highly of the man who has been by his side for some of the rockiest years of his tenure as mayor. However, while many are hailing Bratton as a hero in blue, many in the Black and Latino communities have been seen as the driving force behind the disproportionate police presence in poor and minority neighborhoods, as well as a commissioner who often failed to discipline officers who used unjustified force.
On Monday, Million March NYC, a group closely related to Black Lives Matter, held an all-day demonstration vowing to shut down City Hall until de Blasio fired Bratton. They also protested against police brutality and a justice system that they deemed racist.
While Bratton's tenure has seen a dramatic reduction in the use of stop-and-frisk by NYPD officers, and seen historic lows in crime, it has also seen the cops walk free after the killings of both Eric Garner and Akai Gurley.
He also made news after police officers tackled and handcuffed former tennis pro James Blake after they wrongly identified him as a criminal.
Regardless of the many controversies that marred his tenure, Mayor de Blasio praised Bratton during the statement.
"I don't think anyone could've imagined a more productive 31 months," de Blasio said. "We will never forget or fail to honor the achievements of Bill Bratton," but added of his successor, "Jimmy is the real thing in every way."
Bratton's resignation comes just days after he told The New York Times that he did not foresee himself serving as the city's top-ranked cop after 2017, opting instead to spend his remaining working years in the private sector.
Bratton is a polarizing figure who shaped an era of policing in New York City, and the rest of the nation. Recently, after two officers were shot dead in their patrol car in 2014, and after the two police-targeted attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge last month, he quoted the words of Black Los Angeles activist "Sweet" Alice Harris, "We need to find ways to see each other."
Despite the protests demanding his resignation, Bratton said, "I'm leaving because it's the right time." He is expected to stay on until September to help ease the transition from him to O'Neill.
(Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)