As Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looks on, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Bill Bratton announces that he will resign from the department to head of a private security firm.
William Bratton announced Wednesday that he will resign after seven years as Los Angeles' police chief.
"When you love what you do, when you love the people you get to do it with, when you love where you do it, there is never a good time to leave, but there is a right time," Bratton said when he announced the resignation Wednesday afternoon at City Hall. "And for me personally and professionally at this time, it is the right time."
He will step down Oct. 31. The chief plans to move back to New York to join Altegrity Inc. to help cities institute crime tracking systems.
Bratton's title will be Chief Executive Officer of Altegrity Security Consulting (ASC), a new business unit, where he'll be reunited with Michael Cherkasky, who worked with Bratton when the chief was a consultant to Kroll, Inc. -- another Cherkasky-led agency.
Cherkasky also served as a court-appointed LAPD monitor for eight years.
Bratton, 61, became chief of the LAPD in 2002. Bratton's decision comes after a tenure in which he instituted vast reforms of the once-scandalized police department.
City Council President Eric Garcetti said he spoke with Bratton Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
"It's been a remarkable chapter. The Los Angeles Police Department is stronger than it's ever been, both internally and externally," Garcetti said. "The city is safer than it's been in half a lifetime and this seemed like the appropriate time for him (Bratton) to move on to his next challenge in life."
Just last month a judge released the department from eight years of oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice, which had alleged a long pattern of abuse.
Under Bratton, Los Angeles has seen declining crime rates since 2003.
The Times reported that Bratton returned Tuesday night from a personal trip to New York.
The newspaper reported that aides to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the mayor knew nothing of Bratton's planned departure. Villaraigosa and Bratton were side-by-side at a podium during the announcement.
Also caught off guard were members of the civilian panel that oversees the LAPD and the deputy and assistant chiefs, the LA Times reported.
Bratton will leave with more than three years remaining in his second term. Bratton was reappointed to a second five-year term in June 2007.
Los Angeles police chiefs once enjoyed unlimited tenures. Changes in the charter under reforms driven by the Rodney King beating and resulting 1992 riot led to limits.
Bratton previously brushed aside rumors about leaving for other jobs. 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.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose brother, former Mayor James Hahn, appointed Bratton as police chief in 2002, said, "I think we'll always owe Chief Bratton a debt of gratitude for what he was able to accomplish."
"Crime is down, the consent decree has been lifted, morale has been improved and I think the relationship between the communities and their police officers has never been better," Hahn said. "It's a good time for him to leave. He's ahead of his game, he's on top."
Hahn ticked off the names of police officials she considered well qualified to take over for Bratton.
"I think we have an opportunity now maybe to appoint somebody within the department. I think Sharon Papa, Charlie Beck, Jim McDonnell, Earl Paysinger -- all of them would be a great chief of police," she said. "Maybe it's time to have a woman run this department."
An Army veteran who served in the Vietnam war, Bratton began his law enforcement career in 1970 as a police officer in Boston. A decade later, he became Boston's Superintendent of Police, the department's highest sworn rank.
In the 1980s, he headed two other police agencies, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police and the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission Police.
In the 1990s, he served as chief of the New York City Transit Police and as Boston Police Commissioner and New York Police Commissioner.
He is the only person ever to serve as chief executive of both the LAPD and the New York Police Department, where he was credited with achieving the largest crime declines in New York City's history.
The head of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents sworn officers, issued a statement wishing Bratton well.
"Chief Bratton has served our city with honor and professionalism, and his shoes will be tough to fill," said LAPPL President Paul M. Weber. "While we may not have agreed with the chief on all of the issues, the LAPPL appreciates the working relationship it shared with Bratton."
Bratton's Full Statement
Chief William Bratton issued the following statement Wednesday when he announced his resignation.
"When you love what you do, when you love the people you get to do it with, when you love where you do it, there is never a good time to leave, but there is a right time. And for me personally and professionally at this time, it is the right time. Almost seven years ago when I had the incredible honor and privilege to be named as chief of police for this department, it was a very troubled organization in what was arguably a very troubled city.
"We committed at that time, then-Mayor James Hahn and the commission at that time headed by Rick Caruso, to do a number of things. We committed to reduce crime here and disorder in the city because it had been increasing and increasing dramatically. Today, now almost seven years later, homicides are down 54 percent, overall crime is down 38 percent, violent crime is down 53 percent, gang crime is down dramatically. Homicides so far this year are down about 15 percent.
"So we have met that challenge. We committed in that post 9/11 era when there was so much concern about being targeted to make sure that the city would stay safe against potential terrorist acts, and we have succeeded. And when I say we, I mean the political leadership, the mayor, council and certainly the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department ... and the communities that have supported us with their tax dollars and their votes and their efforts. We succeeded in making this city one of the safest in America as it faces the perils of terrorism and in doing so also established the Los Angeles Police Department as one of the most widely respected departments in the world on issues of counter-terrorism.
"We committed also to deal with the issue of the consent decree, the largest consent decree ever agreed to in the United States, and one that had been very slow to get started. It was not being embraced by the organization. And while it took us longer than anticipated, we within the last several months finally achieved compliance with the consent decree and exited it and exited it in a very good way with very good words from the judge overseeing the consent decree.
"Fourthly, and Mayor Villaraigosa can take certainly some incredible personal pride in this, we committed to try to grow the Los Angeles Police Department, where too few for too long had tried to do too much with too little. He has championed tirelessly growing this department and resourcing it to make this city a safer place, and he has succeeded. We will soon reach that 1,000 growth mark, and it was not easy. But it is an accomplishment that this city is benefiting from every day with those reduced crime rates. And in accomplishing it, we were very mindful to grow the department so it looked like the city it is policing. We are now a minority-majority department. We look like and we are the Los Angeles community. Our leadership chain, our rank-and- file, our civilian work staff.
"We also committed to try to do something in this city about the issue of racial tension and ethnic tension. In my wife Rikki's book, that was written shortly after I accepted this position, after I campaigned to achieve this position, I indicated one of the reasons I wanted to come to Los Angeles was that I had great pride in my profession. I love what I do. I love what police can do in America. But so often with that terrible situation of racial turmoil, racial profiling, biased policing, we have been the flash-point of those tensions, as recently as two weeks ago the situation at Harvard University in Cambridge. Here in Los Angeles, as reflected in the Harvard study that was just completed and the recent Los Angeles Times poll, and if you talk to people in the city as you do in the media in particular, I believe we have turned a corner in that issue, in that this is a city that is proud of its racial diversity. It is a city where people do work together. And it is my belief that the Los Angeles Police Department has played a significant role in bringing that about.
"As to a legacy, I would hope that in years ahead when people look back to the six, now almost seven years that I've been privileged to lead the department, there would be an appreciation that on that issue, which has plagued America for 400 years, that we have begun here in the City of Angels to begin to show the way to resolution. Still a long way to go but we have begun the journey
"It has been a remarkable seven years but it is time to move on. I'm very excited about the new opportunity that I have been offered. I will stay in this position until October 31st. In meetings this morning with the mayor and John Mack, I gave them my letters of resignation and I will be returning to New York to work with a company, Altegrity. I am being given the honor and the opportunity to work with Mike Cherkasky, who's very well known to you as the federal monitor who I've worked with and have known for many, many years -- a company that he is now leading. I will be creating a new division within that company that will focus on professional police activities, criminal justice activities around the world. We will be specifically working with post-conflict nations, as the company already is in Afghanistan and Iraq and other emerging democracies, to bring professional law and criminal justice systems to those countries, lessons learned here in Los Angeles and New York. It is a personal opportunity to return to New York. It is a professional opportunity to stay involved in a much larger way in my profession.
"Lastly, a thank you to the men and women, the exemplary men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department. Their extraordinary work. The political leadership to my right, the City Council, the guidance and the oversight of the Police Commission -- the four Police Commissions that I've been privileged to work for. We, I believe, have achieved great things. I encourage my successor whoever that may be, to build on those successes and he or she is inheriting a department that is so extraordinary in so many ways, but the challenge is to continue to improve it, to continue to make it an even more essential part of life in Los Angeles."