Police chief-in-waiting William J. Bratton addressed a group of 51 bright-eyed police recruits at the Los Angeles Police Department's Westchester training facility Tuesday, laying out his vision for community policing and his high expectations for future officers.
Bratton sounded many now-familiar themes in brief remarks to the 43 men and eight women in the class, one of six LAPD recruitment classes expected to be trained to join the department over the next year.
But as he looked out at the rows of recruits, their hair closely cropped and eyes fixed forward, he began waxing sentimental about his beginnings in the Boston Police Department, and the three decades that have passed with the snap of a finger.
There would be large expectations, Bratton, who was selected by Mayor James K. Hahn last week as the city's next police chief, told the recruits. And as they move through their careers, they need to remember that they are public servants and to carry themselves based on pride, commitment and respect for the job, as well as for the city's inhabitants, he said.
"As you police these streets, think of what you would want for your mother, your father, your sister, your brother," Bratton said, recalling the words of a late compatriot. "Think of your family in terms of what it would be like for them to walk in some of the neighborhoods you will be asked to police and some of the neighborhoods you are going to be asked to bring back."
To do that, Bratton said, the department must not be afraid to reach out to the community, business people and political leaders to identify and prioritize problems "that are creating crime, fear and disorder."
It also means adhering to the highest ethical principles, he said.
At the same time, Bratton acknowledged that he will have to accomplish more with fewer resources than in the past, noting that "the thin blue line was being stretched pretty thin."
Bratton wrapped up his tour by watching other police recruits engage in hand-to-hand combat training exercises, paying cash for two LAPD T-shirts and pausing at a memorial for fallen officers. Looking back at the modern training facility, he added that the department also needs a new headquarters to replace Parker Center downtown.
Across town, meanwhile, a group of Latino community members, including several former LAPD officers, denounced Hahn's selection of Bratton, calling the process unfair and tainted.
Gus Frias, a member of the coalition known as the Los Angeles Coalition for the Chief of Police, which endorsed Oxnard Police Chief Art Lopez, said Hahn chose Bratton prior to the official selection process.
Frias and others called upon the Los Angeles City Council, which must confirm Bratton's appointment, to formally investigate the mayor's action. They cited as an example the fact that Bratton was house hunting in Los Angeles weeks before his selection.
On Sunday, Bratton was warmly received at a Latino heritage picnic thrown by the Latin American Law Enforcement Assn.
"Not everybody is happy, but the disappointment is over," said association President Art Placentia. "We will support him [Bratton] as vigorously as we would have Art Lopez."