Where in the world is Bill Bratton?
From the first day he arrived in town as Chief of Police, Bill Bratton has played the game like no one before him.
Brash as only a New York/Boston transplant could be, he brooked no criticism, brushing aside complaints about the LAPD's past failings with a brusque: "Get over it."
Unlike any previous chief, he traveled outside the city so often that many inside the department and City Hall often referred to him as the part-time chief. No one seemed to even notice he was out of town for the Chatsworth Metrolink collision so Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell filled in as the LAPD spokesman.
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He broke unwritten rules by taping advertisements for the phone tax and more recently the gang tax on the Nov. 4 ballot --a violation made necessary by the mayor's unpopularity and the chief being just about the only local political figure highly regarded by the public. Now, he's done one for Barack Obama to lend credence to his anti-terrorist credentials.
Given his history of ambitious job-jumping and lucrative outside law enforcement consulting, the question has long been when he would cash in on his success in cutting violence on L.A.'s streets and move on.
For months, the speculation has been that he would head off to Washington as head of Homeland Security or possibly the FBI no matter who won the presidential election.
When I teased him recently at the Police Academy graduation of former Daily News reporter Brent Hopkins about speculation he would become chief of police in London, Bratton said he'd love to but not for several years.
I took it as a flip remark but what he recently told the LAPD's command staff can't be dismissed. With all of LAPD's captains and above in attendance, Bratton suddenly brought up his future and said he'll be around for years to come. He made the point forcefully and unequivocally and left no doubt he meant it. You don't lie to cops, especially ones hoping to move up when you leave, even if you're the chief.
One of the reasons is certainly what L.A. has done for the career of his wife, Rikki Kleiman, a legal expert best known for her work on Court TV (now Tru TV). But since they moved to L.A., her acting career has taken off, her book Her autobiographical book "Fairy Tales Can Come True" reached best-seller lists and she draws numerous speaking engagements, especially before women's groups.
So the answer to the question is this: Bill Bratton is staying right here in L.A. -- at least most of the time.