Bill Bratton on American policing and the challenge facing the Boston Police Department

The most successful police chief in recent history recounts his career, the most difficult year for police since the 1960s, and the imperative of the Boston Police Department looking outside its ranks to move forward.


By Kevin Cullen Globe Columnist


It is sad but true to realize that the whole country would know Manny Familia’s name if he had shot a 14-year-old kid named Troy Love instead of losing his life while trying to save the boy.

Alas, the ultimate sacrifice by the Worcester police officer, drowning alongside the teen he tried to save, will barely register outside New England.

That is the reality in this country, where a reckoning on race and power and policing continues to play out more than a year after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer whose knee brought the figurative weight of the world down on so many.


Look at the headlines. The Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police are usually in them for all the wrong reasons. Nationwide, police are facing scrutiny, and hostility, like never before.

Cops are skittish. Many are taking early retirement. Those who hate them are emboldened. Those who, with not a little justification, want more accountability are demanding systemic change.


Bill Bratton, the most successful American police chief of the last half-century, has written a book called “The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race and the Arc of Policing in America.” As usual, his timing is impeccable.

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