Saturday, December 7, 2013

New NYC top cop's special childhood book

NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton with his special book. | NBC News via The New York Times
Our theme for the 2014 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is built on the principle that reading for children and to children is a good idea for civilization. The childhood reading experience is fundamental to a person's development. So it was a delight to see The New York Times' article about the city's newly appointed police commissioner. During a news conference, he was holding up a children's book.

2014 book fair children's theme poster.
This is actually the second time Bill Bratton has been Gotham's police commissioner. The first time was back in 1994, when he had a hand in significantly reducing the crime rate during his two years in the job. The passion of the prominent crime fighter for police work, though, began when he was a nine-year-old Boston youngster. That's when he went to a local library and picked up an illustrated book titled Your Police (Garden City Books, 1956) by George J. Zaffo.

In its day, the book was a favorite and found in libraries throughout the country. It told how to become a police recruit, the training involved and the duties of officers. Bold illustrations and typography showed guns, police helicopters, mounted police, and a forensics lab and equipment. It had everything a kid needed to know to become a policeman.

A Times article quoted ILAB rare book dealer Helen Younger, of Aleph-Bet Books in Westchester County, as saying the book was beautifully designed and unusual for its time. The book is long since out of print, and remaining copies listed online were bought immediately from and other websites. 

Turns out the book has had a special place in Bratton's life throughout his four-decade career in law enforcement. He has taken his copy to every police department he has work for, including Los Angeles, where he was police commissioner for seven years.

"I've taken this book everywhere I've ever gone, every department," The Times quoted him as saying at the news conference. "It's always proudly displayed because it had such a profound influence on me."

We hope fairgoers will have equally good fortune in finding the meaningful books in their lives when they come to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in March.

Here's a link to The New York Times article about Bill Bratton's appointment and a video from the news conference.

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