• The Profession

  • A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America
  • By: Bill Bratton, Peter Knobler
  • Narrated by: Bill Bratton
  • Length: 16 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (89 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Engaging...a remarkably candid account.... Succeeding as a centrist in public life these days can be an almost impossible task. But centrism in law enforcement may be the most delicate challenge of all. Bratton’s ability to practice it was a startling phenomenon.” (New York Times Book Review)

The epic, transformative career of Bill Bratton, legendary police commissioner and police reformer, in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York

When Bill Bratton became a Boston street cop after his return from serving in Vietnam, he was dismayed by the corrupt old guard, and it is fair to say the old guard was dismayed by him, too. But his success fighting crime could not be denied. Propelled by extraordinary results, Bratton had a dazzling rise, and ultimately a dazzling career, becoming the most famous police commissioner of modern times. The Profession is the story of that career in full.

Everywhere he went, Bratton slashed crime rates and professionalized the vocation of the cop. He and his team created the revolutionary program CompStat, the Big Bang of modern data-driven policing. But his career has not been without controversy, and central to the reckoning of The Profession is the fundamental crisis of relations between the Black community and law enforcement; a crisis he now believes has been inflamed by the unforeseen consequences of some well-intentioned policies. Building trust between a police force and the community it is sworn to protect is in many ways, Bratton argues, the first task - without genuine trust in law enforcement to do what is right, little else is possible.

The Profession is both a searching examination of the path of policing over the past fifty years, for good and also for ill, and a master class in transformative leadership. Bill Bratton was never brought into a police department to maintain the status quo; wherever he went - from Boston in the '80s to the New York Police Department in the '90s to Los Angeles after the beating of Rodney King to New York again in the era of unchecked stop-and-frisk - root-and-branch reinvention was the order of the day and he met the challenge. There are few other positions on Earth in which life-and-death stakes combine with intense public scrutiny and turbulent political crosswinds as they do for the police chief of a major American city, even more so after counterterrorism entered the mix in the twenty-first century. Now more than ever, when the role of the police in society is under a microscope like never before, Bill Bratton's authority on the subject of improving law enforcement is profoundly useful. A riveting combination of cop stories and community involvement, The Profession presents not only a fascinating and colorful life at the heights of law-enforcement leadership, but the vision for the future of American policing that we sorely need.

©2021 Bill Bratton and Peter Knobler (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Succeeding as a centrist in public life these days can be an almost impossible task. But centrism in law enforcement may be the most delicate challenge of all. Bratton’s ability to practice it was a startling phenomenon. Engaging...a remarkably candid account...a veritable encyclopedia of police tactics and culture.... It may be true, as Yeats chillingly reminded us, that the center cannot hold. It doesn’t seem to be holding in public life at the moment. But at certain times, in the right hands and circumstances, it does come forward.” (New York Times Book Review)

“If then-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton had done nothing other than rescue New York City in the early ‘90s from intolerable violence, he’d still be regarded as the most impactful police reformer of the past 40 years. Now in The Profession, Bratton and his co-writer, Peter Knobler, have written a fast-paced tale of his full career, including his seven years as reform chief of the LAPD, and his return as NYPD commissioner, where he permanently ended shamefully racist mass stop-and-frisk policies. The Profession is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand how to make policing reform happen in the 2020s.” (Joe Domanick, associate director of The Center on Media, Crime and Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice) 

“Bill Bratton is the most pivotal and powerful voice in American law enforcement in these times. His candid, revealing story is a must-read for every mayor, police chief, and community leader who truly wants to transform law enforcement and create community trust in the 21st century.” (Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans)

“From no matter what angle you look at the debate of how we police ourselves, this book is timely and vitally important. Half memoir, half philosophy, this is the bible on police reform and reconciliation with community. Told by a man who changed policing in three major cities, The Profession by Bill Bratton brings deep and new understanding to what it means to protect and serve - from both sides of the badge.” (Michael Connelly, author of The Law of Innocence)

What listeners say about The Profession

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Outstanding

What an outstanding dissection and historical account of the evolution of policing and the perception versus the rre amity of the life of an officer on the streets. Excellent.

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Solid logic and leadership found here

Haven't recommended a book to as many people as I have recommended this one. Struggled in the beginning with the 'way back' start and his strong accent, but once I got my ears around it, I couldn't turn it off. Starting at the beginning of his career gave it such weight and perspective, as did including the experiences with so many agencies. He says things that will make you mad, no matter your position, and the solidly backs up why he holds that opinion. Might even go so far as to change a few minds, but I'm not sure thats what he was going for. Seems very much a, "This is my view on policing with 50+ years of experience. I'm going to leave it here. You think what you want. I'll still be retired." And pokes fun at himself along the way. Do yourself a favor and listen.

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A Necessary Book for Our Time

Bill Bratton is a leading expert in law enforcement and public safety and he doesn’t disappoint. This book is required reading for anyone who cares about public safety and truly wishes to try understand the real dynamics between crime and disorder. It should be read and considered by scholars, activists and ordinary people, alike.

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Required reading for law enforcement and community leaders

Over two decades ago, Jack Maple wrote “The Crime Fighter,” the lessons of which led American cities to record-low crime levels. Since then, American law enforcement has contended with a host of new challenges: race relations, equity, terrorism, and a return to violent crime and disorder. Like many other public policy challenges, the causes and solutions are complicated. Commissioner Bratton and Peter Knobler, however, provide a clear analysis of how we got here, along with a recipe to ensure that the best days of the law enforcement profession and the people we serve are ahead of us. This book should be required reading for anyone who aspires to be a law enforcement or community leader.

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Absolutely A Must Read

As a policeman I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bill Bratton on several occasions while he served as chief of police in Los Angeles. From his early experiences to this book today, he absolutely has his finger on the pulse of what policing needs. He is a visionary an outside the box thinker. Absolute great read. Chiefs like Bill Bratton will help swing the pendulum of what policing needs to be back at today. I encourage all who have questions about, are entering, are currently or retired to read this book. Well done Chief Bratton.

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  • Dave
  • 02-11-22

Excellent story

First and foremost Bill’s narration is excellent. He held my attention the whole way through and it was a riveting tale. Bill weaves autobiographical war stories in with a cavalcade of lessons learned from his career. I was particularly interested in the origins of Compstat and it’s metamorphosis into its contemporary form.

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