NY's William Bratton Named Chief of LAPD

Former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton was selected today by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn to serve as Chief of the LAPD.

We are very pleased and we commend Mayor Hahn for recognizing that if anyone can turn the scandal-ridden, morale-deprived Los Angeles Police Department around, it is Bill Bratton.

To understand why we feel this way, please read our prior endorsements of Bill- here, here, here, here and here.

Back to Thursday's New York Times:

"The outspoken Mr. Bratton, who ran New York's police department for 27 months from 1994 to 1996 until he was forced out by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, promised in interviews with Mayor James K. Hahn and other city leaders that he would cut Los Angeles's rising crime rate and improve morale in the city's dispirited and distrusted police ranks."

"Mr. Bratton's brash promise, as well as his documented crime-fighting record in New York and Boston, tipped the scales in a competitive three-way contest for the chief's job, city officials said. He beat out his former deputy chief in New York, John F. Timoney, who went on to become police chief of Philadelphia, and Art Lopez, a 27-year veteran of the Los Angeles department who is now police chief in Oxnard, Calif."

...."Rick Caruso, chairman of the civilian police commission that recommended the three finalists to Mayor Hahn, said Mr. Bratton was the best candidate of the dozens the commission interviewed. "I've got to give Jim Hahn credit," Mr. Caruso said. "He made a tough choice, and he made the right choice in the best interests of the city."

"Mr. Bratton is widely respected among criminal justice experts for his successes in rapidly reducing New York's rampant street crime after becoming commissioner in early 1994. He is an advocate of "community policing," an approach that puts more officers on the street and tries to integrate the police into the daily lives of residents rather than merely responding to calls for help."

"In New York, he began a system of tracking crimes block by block on a computer, then flooding the high-crime zones with officers until the crime rate dropped. He achieved sharp reductions in street crime using the method, which he has said he will try to institute in Los Angeles."

"Mayor Giuliani forced Mr. Bratton's resignation in March 1996 after raising questions about his book contract and about luxury travel financed by friends and associates. At the time, Mr. Bratton was a nationally known crime fighter whose popularity in opinion polls exceeded that of any New York official, including Mr. Giuliani. In his book, Mr. Bratton described his tortured relationship with Mr. Giuliani and made it clear he did not intend for his police work to end in New York."

The Times notes that Bratton has his work cut out for him:

"The city's rising crime rate has resisted previous efforts, and the department's morale has been damaged by a decade of scandals, beginning with the beating of Rodney King and the response to the riots that followed. Police morale is low and the department is having some difficulty recruiting and retaining officers. The city's ethnic and racial diversity has also presented a huge challenge."

"Joe Domanick, author of "To Protect and Serve: The L.A.P.D.'s Century of War in the City of Dreams," applauded the mayor's choice, saying it was time for an accomplished outsider to come in and clean house. "This is really extraordinary and something that's been a half-century in coming."

Thursday's LA Times article on Bratton's selection is filled with praise from officers and city officials alike (Free registration required).

Congratulations to Bill. We know he will be a great presence and leader out in LA.

P.S. Bill Bratton is married to our good pal Rikki Klieman, the vivacious, smart, savvy and articulate Court TV anchor who in her prior life was one of the leading criminal defense attorneys in Boston, and one of the best female trial lawyers in the country.

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