Bratton left that team after he decided he wanted the chief's job. He enjoyed the backing of public figures such as businessman-philanthropist Eli Broad. He also spent time with members of the Christopher Commission--which recommended widespread changes in the LAPD after the 1991 Rodney King beating--and met with current and former police commissioners, including Gerald Chaleff, who advised Bratton in his quest for the post.
"He's been successful in improving every department that he has headed," said Chaleff, who is senior advisor to City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo. "His reforms have been maintained in each one of those departments. He will provide the Los Angeles Police Department with the leadership to improve the morale of the officers of the department and will assist the city in completing the tasks required in the consent decree."
Aware that he brought with him an outsized reputation in a laid-back political city, Bratton reached out to community leaders during his campaign, and was the only candidate to approach the Los Angeles Urban League, said its president, John Mack.
"That said something to me about his desire to work in partnership with the various segments of Los Angeles as he tries to get a handle on running that department," Mack said.
"In my opinion he possesses the track record, the leadership that's going to be required to really turn the institutional culture of the LAPD around, to bring about the kind of lasting, long-term reform that needs to be brought about," he added. "He will have his hands full. It will not be an easy task."
Bratton, who headed the NYPD from 1994 to 1996, is not shy about touting his own achievements, including a crackdown on crime--from the petty to the felonious--that provoked a reexamination of police methods nationwide. On his watch, serious felonies--murder, rape, robbery and the like--dropped by a third. The homicide rate was cut in half.
Experts continue to argue over whether Bratton's tactics or economic and demographic changes were mainly responsible for the decline.
Nonetheless, Bratton became a celebrity and penned an autobiography, "Turnaround." But his upstaging of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani proved his undoing, and he was forced from office after a public and bitter feud.
As a result, Bratton worked hard to portray himself as a team player who will serve at the will of Hahn.
"Obviously Jimmy was sufficiently comfortable that there is not going to be a one-act show in the Police Department," said Melanie Lomax, president of the Police Commission in 1991 and 1992. "I think Bratton understands who his boss is, but he has enough of a commanding presence to win the respect of the rank and file."
Bratton faces a daunting task, both within the ranks and on the streets. As the fourth chief in 10 years, he will take over a department wounded by the King beating a decade ago and stung by more recent corruption scandals. In addition, violent crime has risen in recent years after falling through much of the 1990s.
Bratton will have to combat crime with a much smaller force spread out over a much larger territory than he did in New York. The NYPD has about 40,000 officers, compared with 9,025 in Los Angeles.
During the last year of his tenure, former LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks was roundly criticized for failing to stem three successive years of increasing violent crime, particularly homicides.
After hitting a 30-year low of 419 killings citywide in 1998, the homicide rate rose more than 40% through 2001, when the city logged 579 slayings, according to LAPD crime statistics.
Most of the killings occurred in the urban core, where less than half of the city's 3.7 million people reside, but where three-fourths of the homicides occur.
Dean Hansell, former vice president of the Police Commission, said he thought Bratton would be up to the task.
"He really is one of the top cops in the United States," Hansell said. "He's a strategic thinker."
Times staff writers Daryl Kelley, Massie Ritsch and Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.