I kind of can't believe it, Bill Bratton resigning? The LAPD Chief always said this was his dream job. We'll know more in two hours, when he has this press conference I'm reading about in the LA Times, but for now all we know is it's an apparent surprise to everyone -- including the Mayor and the Police Commission.
He's a really popular chief, and the numbers back that statement up. According to The Times:
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."
Will it? We can only hope so. Chief Bratton used a methodical system to plug away at crime, which starts with community policing (check out who's in charge in your neighborhood by clicking here) and empowering people with stuff like these cool crime maps, because, as the website says, "being informed about crime in your community is the first step in preventing future occurrences."
Bratton is said to be taking a job heading a private security firm, and come to think of it, he and his wife put their house on the market a month or so ago. There was speculation then that he may be eying Scotland Yard, which has been rumored and reported in the British tabloids, or going to Washington DC as head of Homeland Security.
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The Chief quashed those rumors by telling the LA Times that he and his wife are looking for another house in LA, preferably one without a pool because he's used it twice and it's a pain to maintain. That makes me chuckle; I read his book when it was first announced that he was coming to LA several years ago and remember the part about the swimming test he had to take for his job at the Port Authority when he was just starting out. He couldn't swim at all, but was pleased to find out that the water was just about 4 feet deep the entire length of the pool so he just sort of ... ran his laps. Yes, pretty much on foot -- but stooping over and trying to blend in.
On KNX 1070 radio this morning as the story was breaking, political reporter Dick Helton and Linda Nunez were talking about possible future plans for Bratton and the likelihood that he'd be leaving the public sector for good. The consensus was no: that perhaps he has, despite his many past protestations to the contrary, designs on the mayor's office or some other political position where he can make policy. That being out of the public sector will give him an opportunity to get a foothold of support that would be considered a conflict of interest while he's running the LAPD. I bet we don't get an answer to that one at the press conference today. He could easily spend the next few years building bridges in the private sector for a return to public service.
LA Weekly is reporting the following:
According to radio reports, he has accepted a job at Altegrity Inc., which is based in Falls Church, Virginia. The company is owned by Rhode Island's Providence Equity Partners of Providence, which focuses on media, entertainment, communications, and information investments, and manages more than $22 billion in equity commitments. Bratton's boss will be Michael Cherkasky who became CEO of its 8,000 global employees earlier this year. Cherkasky was CEO at New York-based professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.
Bratton will travel around the world helping cities institute a tracking system to follow crime. He will reportedly begin his new job in three months.
That gives us a little time to find another chief, hmm. The LA Times story today goes on to say:
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."
I, for one, hopes he takes on something big. There's a lot that needs fixing, and Chief Bratton seems to have the sense to get the job done where so many others have failed. It's common sense, which, as the saying goes, really isn't that common at all.