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Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton to step down

Bratton William J. Bratton is expected to announce plans to resign as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department today to take over as head of a private security firm, sources have told The Times.

Bratton is expected to announce his decision at a noon press conference today. He did not return several calls seeking comment. 

The decision by Bratton, who has dramatically reshaped the LAPD and pushed down crime rates since taking over in 2002, took the city’s political and police leadership by surprise. 

As Bratton flew back to Los Angeles from a personal trip to New York Tuesday night, aides to his boss, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said Villaraigosa knew nothing of the planned departure. 

Likewise, members of the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD, as well as the deputy and assistant chiefs whom Bratton entrusts with the day-to-day operations of the department, were caught off-guard when asked about Bratton’s imminent resignation. 

Bratton, 61, leaves with more than three years remaining in his second term. In Los Angeles, he cemented his reputation as one of the country’s leading law enforcement minds.

 As he did during a short stint as head of the New York City Police Department, Bratton implemented a crime-fighting strategy in L.A. built around an obsessive focus on crime data and a computer mapping system that is used to identify specific areas of the city that require more policing. 

That approach, along with a management style that placed considerable authority in the hands of his field commanders, has produced results: Crime rates have fallen steadily each year since Bratton’s takeover.

In a Los Angeles 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 police performance today.

It remains to be seen whether the changes made over the last 6 1/2 years have taken deep enough root to outlast the man who oversaw them. In recent interviews with The Times, Bratton has said that he believed the department was prepared for his departure. "If I left tomorrow," he said in December, "this would continue after I'm gone."

Bratton has long brushed aside frequent rumors about him leaving the LAPD for other jobs. British tabloids have often breathlessly announced he was a front-runner to take over Scotland Yard. And during the recent presidential campaign, he was seen as a strong candidate for a top federal law enforcement job, such as at the Department of Homeland Security. When asked by The Times 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.

Regardless, the termination of the consent decree last month seemed to signal a major turning point for Bratton and his outlook on his tenure at the LAPD. With the department now free of what he believed was the heavy stigma of federal oversight, there appeared to be little new for Bratton to focus his energies on.

"I never want to go and just maintain something," he said in an interview late last year. "I want to be able to fix something."

-- Joel Rubin


Bratton lists his Los Feliz home at $1,875,000

Photo credits: Top, Al Seib / Los Angeles Times; bottom,  Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (62)

One of the best chiefs along with Gates, too bad he is leaving. People respected him even criminals which is always good. Hopefully whoever takes over is a hard worker just like Bratton.

Who's next?

In his short tenure, Bratton has proved himself to be one of the finest chiefs the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD have ever seen.

Gates was a worthless Chief. It's amazing that you could even reference the two in the same sentence. Gates was no Bratton. Gates was no Willie Williams. Gates was at the core of what was wrong with the department.

After getting fired by Guiliani for showboating (stealing Rudy's time in the limelight) and before coming to LA Bratton worked for a Boston-based security firm run by his friend Robert Johnson (I think). He wasn't well known for being much of a rain maker there.

I am really disappointed to hear this. I was listening to Chief Bratton the other day on the radio and was impressed by his vision and commitment to the 'depaaartment'...but this is the kind of move that is both a surprise and an irritation. Not a cool move Chief. Not a cool move.

Who's next indeed? Bratton has been the best chief LAPD has ever had. He brought the department into the 21st Century.

People will pick him apart, focus on his flaws, but the city and his successor need to examine carefully what he did right. How has he brought crime down? How can the city build on and improve his programs?

Do you think he is going to fix the Xe (formerly Blackwater) in the wake of the murder scandal? If anyone could fix it, it's Bratton.

Wow....William Bratton is the sole reason why I felt safe living in Los Angeles. Its incredible how the crime rate steadily decreased since he took over as Chief in '02. He cleaned the streets of New York City prior to his tenure in Los Angeles and definitely put his mark as being one of the best police Chiefs in Los Angeles history.

Huge bummer. Brought integrity, effectiveness and respectability to LAPD.

We need someone good to follow him up, especially with 40,000 ex-cons coming to a neighborhood near you.

Guess that story awhile back, about him selling his house, wasn't just about him not wanting his swimming pool anymore...

Good riddance. I hope Bratton leaves the state and takes S.O. 40 with him. Who can honestly say the city is safer now than it was when he took over. Darryl Gates and others have written on how the stats Bratton regurgitates are largely bogus.


Wonder if they'll bring back Willie from Philly??

Villaragosa better not mess this up with some false political appointment...

maybe the next guy will revoke special order 40, and enforce the law! nah, mayor photo-op will fix that........

ndirish, what drugs have you been taking? How dare you put Darryl Gates in the same boat with William Bratton. Gates was a disaster as LAPD chief. He made the entire police force Nazi commandoes, the police under Gates treated the public with rudeness and contempt, the police were very racist engaging in brutality against black and Hispanic people and Gates planted the seeds that led to the Rodney King beating and the riot that followed when the cops who beat King were acquitted.

William Bratton cleaned up the filth that was put there by Gates. He will be missed.

Horrible news for Los Angeles! But with the way the City Council lately has been harassing him, on a campaign to "tear his ego down to size" in the words of new public safety chair Greig Smith, i was afraid this day would come sooner or later.

Add to Smith, Dennis Zine who's tried to impose his own "Zine's motion" on LAPD and who bashed him on rightwing talk radio, and former chef Parks dubbed "Bitter Bernie" for resenting Bratton's success unlike when he was Chief, and the loss of his strongest supporter Jack Weiss, he's had too much grief and lack of support.

The LAPD is being denied the extra 1000 cops it was promised for the tripled trash fee hikes and Phone Tax S, by the same trio plus Bill Rosendahl forming a majority on budget committee. After they got the Chief to "sell" these taxes on tv, he can't be happy about that. He's said he needs a minimum of 10,000 cops to stop shuffling them around the city, ideally 12,000, but the new council has been fighting him and the mayor on that.

While Smith just thinks he scored a "victory" in wresting the movie cop uniform issue away from the Chief, he and the others have lost us the best Chief we've ever had, and are forcing a new hunt for Chief that will ONLY please them. And the politically ambitious new head of Police Protective League, Zine's and Trutanich's friend Paul Weber, who has been openly seeking to replace Bratton with another rightwinger. I hope none of THEM select the new Chief!

He always called Los Angeles "this city" instead of "our city".

That's too bad. I thought Bratton was an excellent leader for LAPD, and I really liked his no-BS attitude

Fantastic. Now, if the Mayor and City Council will allow it, we can get a Chief who is really a LAPD trained and seasoned leader by internally appointing after Civil Service testing. LAPD does not need outsiders.

After 7 years, does he qualify for California taxpayer funded retirement payments?

What a disappointment. He's such a good chief. It's hard not to feel betrayed by his departure, but it's his life.

You mean there is a head of a private security firm that is about to be fired?

The inevitable LAPD budget cuts next year & the coming release of tens of thousands of convicts from state prison will with no doubt increase the LA crime rate. Bratton is gettin out while the getting is good.

He is showing his true loyalty is to self only. It is easier to succeed during good times, harder with a shrinking budget and increasing workload. Now all can see what many officers have felt for awhile, that Bratton is narcisstic and self serving.

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