Former NY top cop to lead LA

Paul Wilborn The Associated Press
Thursday October 03, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Former New York City police commissioner William Bratton has been selected as the new chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, city officials said Wednesday. 

The announcement is expected Thursday, said City Council member Jack Weiss, who called it “a positive step forward for the city of Los Angeles.” 

Bratton beat out Oxnard chief Art Lopez and former Philadelphia chief John Timoney to lead a 9,000-officer force struggling with low morale and the aftermath of a corruption scandal. Crime is also rising in the city. 

Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at the University of Southern California who has been active in police reform movements, praised Bratton’s selection. 

“What the mayor has done is pick somebody who has a track record of success in turning around departments, in lowering crime rates and boosting morale of the troops,” Chemerinsky said. “If somebody can do it, this is the right person for the job.” 

Bratton, 54, was police commissioner in New York from 1994-1996 before resigning under pressure from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

Bratton was recognized for advocating community policing and reorganizing the New York department. The city’s crime rate declined sharply under his watch: Serious felonies dropped 33 percent and the murder rate was cut in half. Crime declined in other major cities, but not as much as in New York. 

Bratton also led the Boston Police Department and New York’s transit police. 

The search for a new chief started after the Police Commission voted 4-1 in April against giving Chief Bernard Parks a second five-year term. Parks, who failed to get Mayor James Hahn’s support, is now running for a seat on the City Council. 

Bratton’s selection is expected to be announced Thursday by Hahn in the San Fernando Valley, where a secession movement on the November ballot has been partly driven by concerns over rising crime. Hahn’s choice must be confirmed by the City Council. 

Parks suffered in the fallout of the scandal at the department’s Rampart division, where officers allegedly planted evidence, lied and in some cases shot innocent people. Charges against about 100 inmates were dropped as a result. 

Since November 2000, the LAPD has operated under a federal consent decree implemented after Justice Department lawyers found what they described as a pattern of civil rights violations dating back decades. 

The most notorious was the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King which led to devastating riots when the four white officers involved were acquitted of most charges. Parks was the second of two chiefs hired to salvage the department’s reputation. 

The last outsider to run the Los Angeles police was former Philadelphia police commissioner Willie Williams, who took over in 1992 and lasted for one five-year term that was widely viewed as a failure.