Bill Bratton's One Year Report Card

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton was sworn in a year ago. He promised to turn around the escalating crime rate. How has he performed?

Homicides are down 23% over the same period last year, with all violent crime down 4.5%. Arrests are up 12%. Complaints against police also have risen by 12% during Bratton's watch. Compared with crime statistics of other large American cities, only Los Angeles appears headed toward a significant drop in homicides this year.

...In his first report card, the civilian-run police commission that hired him concluded on Oct. 14 that Bratton's overall performance "exceeds all standards." Police Commission President David S. Cunningham, the lone vote last year on the commission to retain former LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks, said Bratton has changed how he thinks about crime.

....Bratton vowed to pursue "assertive policing" while denouncing the beatings, thefts and evidence-planting that had plagued the Rampart Division's former gang unit. "You will not break the law to enforce the law," he warned repeatedly.

....As he has in other cities before, Bratton began making good-faith gestures to the rank and file. ... Most significant, he almost immediately revamped the hated disciplinary system, calling for minor complaints to be addressed quickly by allowing a supervisor to refer such matters for dispute resolution, rather than formal investigation.

....Bratton is "the light at the end of the tunnel," said Bob Baker, president of the Police Protective League, the union representing about 9,000 current officers. "People outside this department just don't understand how dark the days had gotten here before his arrival," said Baker, whose union was openly hostile to Parks. "The man listens ... that's rare for a chief."

Bratton insists he's staying in L.A.

Bratton, who has entertained the idea of running for public office, insists he will stay for his full five-year term as chief. "I'm not going anywhere," Bratton said this summer. "I just bought a $1.5-million home. I get a pension out of this place after five years that's worth a fortune. My wife has just changed jobs. We happen to like living in Los Angeles. Why would I want to leave?"

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