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BRATTON NAMED CHIEF ANNOUNCEMENT OF HAHN'S CHOICE SET FOR TODAY.

Byline: Mariel Garza Staff Writer

Mayor James Hahn has picked former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton as chief of the beleaguered Los Angeles Police Department, sources said Wednesday.

The official announcement will be made today at 11:30 a.m. at the North Hollywood police station.

Hahn offered the job to Bratton on Wednesday morning by phone and Bratton accepted, sources said. The mayor's decision is subject to approval by the City Council, with a simple majority required to confirm the mayor's choice of a successor to ousted Chief Bernard C. Parks.

Hahn spent the better part of two weeks researching and interviewing Bratton and the two other candidates - Oxnard Chief Art Lopez and former Philadelphia Chief John Timoney, who was second to Bratton at the NYPD.

``The choice was pretty clear to him,'' said an insider in the Mayor's Office. ``Bill Bratton led large police organizations and turned them all around.''

The choice of Bratton, a celebrity cop and darling of the East Coast media, won broad support - including from the powerful police officers union - and little opposition was expected in the council or elsewhere.

However, the choice of an outsider with a reputation for being tough left the LAPD's top brass uneasy - and Hahn added to their anxiety by scheduling a whirlwind tour of the city police stations for today with Bratton and top city officials but didn't invite any deputy chiefs.

``Rumors are that deputy chiefs are on a hit list,'' said one high-level source. ``They're going to start whacking away.''

Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook said police commissioners, the new chief and council members are invited to join the tour but deputy chiefs were left out because of a limited number of seats.

Middlebrook declined comment on the status of the LAPD's top brass, saying, ``I'm not going to respond to rumors and innuendo.''

Several city leaders talked of a new day for the LAPD, which has suffered through scandal, low morale, rising crime, inability to attract and retain officers, and, finally, a federal court consent decree.

Initially, the police union was disappointed that the Police Commission had recommended to the mayor a list of three candidates that did not include any one of the six semifinalists from within the LAPD. But after the union's board interviewed Bratton, its members threw their support behind him.

``We're so pleased,'' said Mitzi Grasso, president of the Police Protective League that represents the rank-and-file officers. ``The union is very happy with the mayor's selection.''

Many rank-and-file cops expressed similar sentiments.

``This is a new chapter here in LAPD,'' said LAPD Sgt. Danny Wong, who also leaned toward a department insider. He said he feels optimistic about Bratton and is looking forward to what Bratton can do to raise the spirits of the demoralized department.

Bratton, 54, has led large police departments, including the 39,000- strong NYPD and the Boston Police Department, and has been known as a reformer who brought down crime. Most recently, Bratton has been working as an international security consultant and has come to know the LAPD as a member of the independent consent-decree monitoring team.

``I think it's the right choice,'' said Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor at the University of Southern California who has monitored the LAPD for many years. ``I think what the department needs most is someone who can come in and bring about reform. I think Bratton is somebody who can do this.

``He has experience running a large department. He was successful bringing about change and reform. And I think, as an outsider, real administrative experience in the department, if anyone has a chance, he does.''

But not everyone was ready to jump behind Bratton.

Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD sergeant, said his only problem with Bratton is that he doesn't know him. Zine said he would not rubber-stamp the mayor's choice when the council votes on Bratton's nomination and will do his own research.

``Now that the mayor's made a choice, I've got to do my homework,'' Zine said. ``And if I find problems I will make them known.''

Barring that, Zine said, he would support the mayor's pick.

Councilman Nick Pacheco was disappointed Hahn didn't choose Lopez, a former LAPD veteran who Pacheco thought would do the best job of leading the department.

``I'm not sure yet if Bratton will be able to deal with narcotic-sales issues, the homicide rate that's going on and I'm also really concerned that the rank and file may not embrace him,'' Pacheco said.

While Bratton might still be an unknown to many Angelenos, those who have come to know Bratton say they are impressed with his intelligence, his experience and his inspiring leadership.

``Oh, no question,'' Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said of Bratton's ability to inspire the troops. Along with Council President Alex Padilla, Miscikowski sat in the mayor's interviews with the three candidates last week.

``I think he's an outstanding choice, and outstandingly qualified,'' said Jeff Eglash, inspector general for the LAPD who has worked with Bratton along with other members of the consent-decree team.

Bratton also won hopeful praise from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

``Everyone who has worked tirelessly over the years on the issue of police reform knows that the department must change,'' said Ramona Ripston, executive director for the ACLU of Southern California. ``We hold high hopes that William Bratton is the person to make that change a reality.''

``We need to change the culture within the LAPD,'' said Councilman Jack Weiss, who also approved of Bratton. ``And we need to understand it is possible to be very aggressive at law enforcement and at the same time comply with the Constitution. That's the lesson I learned as a federal prosecutor.''

``We've had the Christopher Commission, we've had the consent decree. We've had books rewritten about what the department needs to do,'' said City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel. ``I think Bratton is going to be the individual to get it done.''

Lopez said Wednesday that he was disappointed, but conceded graciously, saying he was honored to be one of the top three.

``(Hahn) knew what he wanted when he went into the process,'' Lopez said. ``The guy that fit the bill was Bill Bratton, not Art Lopez. I feel disappointed, because I didn't go in the foot race just to finish. I wanted to be at the front of the finish line.''

Lopez, who was also a semifinalist for the job in 1997 when Parks got it, said this is his last run for the top police job in Los Angeles.

Timoney did not return calls seeking comment.

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(color) The choice of William Bratton, 54, a celebrity cop and darling of the East Coast media, won broad support, and little opposition was expected in the City Council or elsewhere.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 3, 2002
Words:1144
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