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Bratton Tells LAPD Brass to Submit Resumes

The incoming chief is seeking insiders with fresh ideas for top command posts. Their material, including goals, is due Friday.

October 17, 2002|Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

For the top brass of the Los Angeles Police Department, it's time to dust off the resumes and touch up those beauty shots, literally.

From the outset, incoming Chief William J. Bratton said he intends to pick a new command team of department insiders who can provide fresh ideas to carry out his vision for change at the LAPD.

Now, Bratton has begun in earnest. He has told 114 commanders to submit memos with resumes, pictures, and a list of the officer's three top accomplishments and three goals for a new-look LAPD.

To some commanders, it is either the first breath of fresh air to blow through the stale environs of Parker Center and its outlying divisions, or the career-ending equivalent of being handed a cigarette and a blindfold.

The answers are due on the desk of Bratton's transition-team leader, Cmdr. Jim McDonnell, by 5 p.m. Friday. McDonnell said Bratton will review the information as quickly as possible.

"The answer to those questions will allow Bratton to make quick and decisive decisions immediately when he takes office," McDonnell said. "He'll be sworn in on [Oct.] 28 and relatively swiftly after that, we want to hit the ground running and getting the LAPD moving."

Most agree that the bid to tap the thoughts of so many commanders, whose salaries range above $90,000, is unusual, if not unprecedented.

Former Assistant Chief David Dotson said he could not recall any incoming chief making such a request of the entire command staff.

"Generally speaking, when a new chief comes in, there isn't usually a transition plan," Dotson said. "Certainly, no one has sent out something so formalized in the past."

LAPD Assistant Chief Dave Gascon said he was not surprised that the new chief would ask for input.

"Every chief of police has taken an opportunity to meet and discuss with the staff of the organization, the critical issues facing the organization," he said. "And [they have] received that input in terms of suggestions for addressing those critical issues."

Cmdr. Sharon Papa, the department's ombudsman, said the move made sense as a way for Bratton to become familiar with the vast number of top managers in the department, and also to determine who is best suited to carry out his agenda.

"If I was walking into this department, I'd want this too," Papa said. "Some of the previous chiefs may have been better prepared if they'd done it.

"Some people may wrongly view it as a test," she said.

"I see it as an opportunity for people to express themselves," she said. "It is certainly easier than the new chief pulling everyone's file."

Bratton has vowed to install his team within two weeks of being sworn in as chief.

The former head of the New York Police Department has said he will recruit his leadership team from within the ranks.

Bratton has identified several current LAPD leaders he highly respects, including Papa, Deputy Chief David Kalish and Cmdr. George Gascon. They along with McDonnell unsuccessfully applied for the chief's post.

Some wonder why the survey is needed, given Bratton's clear pronouncements about his intentions.

Since his selection by Mayor James K. Hahn, Bratton has repeatedly promised a major makeover -- a "re-engineering" -- of the nearly 9,000-officer department, from top to bottom. His model is the city's legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice last year, after that agency concluded that the LAPD had engaged in a "pattern or practice" of civil rights violations.

Bratton has publicly warned that those who don't embrace the consent decree, which embodies the settlement, or the need for change, should retire.

Specifically, Bratton said, he wants to fill out his roster with commanders who endorse his policing concepts and "who are very desirous of change, who have been extraordinarily frustrated for a variety of reasons over the last 10 years."

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