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Bratton Says He’s Leaving in October

Los Angeles WAVE, News Report , Don Wanlass Posted: Aug 10, 2009

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton as a “dynamic and visionary” leader as the city’s top cop announced his resignation in a press conference at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The surprising announcement comes just two weeks after a federal judge lifted the federal consent decree against the department.

“A decade ago a dark cloud hung over the LAPD,” Villaraigosa said. “Tales of corruption tarnished the department’s reputation and the sacred trust of the people was broken. In our darkest hour we sought the help of an outsider with a record of reform, a leader with the skills to turn around the department and improve the moral and establish a sense of community in a city plagued by violence.”

Bratton, 61, who has more than three years remaining in his second term, is heading back to New York to join Altergrity, a global security solutions and specialized law enforcement training company headquartered in Falls Church, Va.
He will leave his post effective Oct. 31.

Along with Villaraigosa, Bratton was flanked by Police Commissioner John Mack as he made his announcement.

“Since my appointment as chief of this extraordinary department in October 2002, by then-Mayor James Hahn, we have traveled together on an exciting and successful journey,” Bratton said. “We committed to reduce crime, fear and disorder, and we have done that. We committed to keeping the city safer from terrorism and we have done that while establishing national best practises and initiatives.”

He added: “It will not be easy to leave because, while much has been done, there is still much more that can be done. But having met personal and professional challenges that I set for myself, I feel this is an appropriate time for new leadership to move the Department forward and meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

Mack, who said he was shocked on learning of Bratton’s decision, called it a bittersweet moment and paid Bratton the highest tribute calling him a “superstar police chief.”

“Bratton has done an amazing job of turning around this department in the aftermath of a tortured history,” Mack said, “and really created a new department for the 21st century.”

City Council President Eric Garcetti said he heard about Bratton’s decision on Tuesday night and spoke with him Wednesday morning.
“He did confirm that, for personal and professional reasons, he thinks this is a good time, that things are in good hands, that there’s no negative reason at all for him leaving,” Garcetti said. “It’s been a remarkable chapter. The Los Angeles Police Department is stronger than it’s ever been, both internally and externally. The city is safer than it’s been in half a lifetime and this seemed like the appropriate time for him to move on to his next challenge in life.”

Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose brother, former Mayor James Hahn, appointed Bratton as police chief in 2002, said, “I think we’ll always owe Chief Bratton a debt of gratitude for what he was able to accomplish.”

“Crime is down, the consent decree has been lifted, morale has been improved and I think the relationship between the communities and their police officers has never been better,” Hahn said. “It’s a good time for him to leave. He’s ahead of his game, he’s on top.”
Hahn ticked off the names of police officials she considered well qualified to take over for Bratton.

“I think we have an opportunity now maybe to appoint somebody within the department. I think Sharon Papa, Charlie Beck, Jim McDonnell, Earl Paysinger — all of them would be a great chief of police,” she said.

“Maybe it’s time to have a woman run this department,” Hahn added.

James Hahn recalled that when he chose Bratton to head the LAPD, “we agreed on shared goals of making this a safer city, improving the department’s relationship with the communities it serves, implementing the consent decree and restoring the public’s confidence in the department. The results speak for themselves. ... I wish him well in his next endeavor.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Bratton, who flew back to Los Angeles from a personal trip to New York on Tuesday night, plans to take over a private security firm.

The 61-year-old chief’s decision to resign, first reported by The Times and KFI AM 640, took the city’s political and police leadership by surprise.

In a Times poll earlier this year, respondents expressed strong support for both the department and its chief. Almost eight in 10 registered voters said they either “strongly approve” or “somewhat approve” of the police department’s performance today.

In recent interviews with The Times, Bratton said he believed the department was prepared for his departure and that the changes he wrought would continue “if I left tomorrow.”

But Bratton had long brushed aside rumors about him leaving for other jobs. When asked last month whether his decision to place his Los Feliz home on the market was a portent of some brewing decision to leave, he said he had no such plans.

On Sept. 11 in New York, Bratton is scheduled to be awarded the honorary title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, for enhancing cooperation between the LAPD and Scotland Yard, particularly on counter-terrorism strategies.

As LAPD chief, Bratton managed 9,977 sworn officers, 3,000 civilian employees, and an annual budget of more than $1 billion.
During his first three years in Los Angeles, violent crimes declined 26.4 percent. From the time Bratton took office in 2002 to the present, gang-related crimes declined 34.9 percent, according to the LAPD.

An Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, Bratton began his law enforcement career in 1970 as a police officer in Boston. A decade later, he became Boston’s superintendent of police, the department’s highest sworn rank.

In the 1980s, he headed two other police agencies, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police and the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission Police.

In the 1990s, he served as chief of the New York City Transit Police and as Boston police commissioner and New York police commissioner.

He is the only person ever to serve as chief executive of both the LAPD and the New York Police Department, where he was credited with achieving the largest crime declines in New York City’s history.

The head of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents sworn officers, issued a statement wishing Bratton well.

“Chief Bratton has served our city with honor and professionalism, and his shoes will be tough to fill,” league President Paul M. Weber said. “While we may not have agreed with the chief on all of the issues, the LAPPL appreciates the working relationship it shared with Bratton.”

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