Published August 11, 2011
Britain said Thursday that it would seek U.S. law enforcement advice on fighting gang violence as the U.K. deals with riots that have gripped several of the country's cities.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has summoned lawmakers back to Parliament because of the crisis, said he would act “decisively to restore order on our streets,” and he cited prominent U.S. police chief Bill Bratton as a potential source for advice.
Bratton, whose resume includes top cop jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, said in a written statement that he would “be honored” to assist the British.
Since the riots first started, London's Metropolitan Police have been widely criticized for its slow and inadequate response. The situation has deteriorated to the point where citizens are forced to stand guard in front of their homes and businesses because of the lack of police presence.
For the first time, its deputy assistant commissioner admitted Thursday that the force did not deploy enough officers to control the outbreak of violence early on in the riots. Cameron also acknowledged shortcomings by police. He said they treated the early riots as a “public order issue” rather than a crime problem.
And according to law enforcement experts in the U.S., the first few hours are pivotal.
Bill Gavin, the former head of the FBI in New York, told Fox News that there’s a philosophical difference between London police and its U.S. cousin departments. In particular, London failed to deploy an overwhelming force to halt the rioters.
“The time for reasoning is after you’ve controlled them,” Gavin said, adding that Bratton would serve as a suitable adviser.
Bratton’s experience with law enforcement is extensive and diverse. He reduced gang-related crimes in Boston and Los Angeles. He has worked with the British in the past, and was given an honorary title by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009, Reuters reported.
"There are many lessons from these experiences that I believe are relevant to the current situation in England," Bratton said.
Britain's riots began Saturday when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in north London turned violent. That clash triggered wider lawlessness that police struggled to halt.
There are currently 16,000 police deployed on London's streets to deter rioters and reassure residents, and those forces are expected to remain through the weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.