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New Chief Comes In Swinging

Bratton takes oath, then condemns LAPD's current state and vows 'extraordinarily sweeping' change. Hahn says he'll back him up.

October 26, 2002|Beth Shuster and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

William J. Bratton formally became the chief of the LAPD on Friday, and quickly stepped up his criticism of the department he now commands, while Mayor James K. Hahn said he intends to give the new chief wide latitude to revamp the organization.

Bratton took the oath of office in a swift private ceremony in Hahn's City Hall office early Friday, then jumped aboard a helicopter with the mayor to attend a city emergency preparedness conference in Lake Arrowhead. When they arrived, the former New York City police commissioner brusquely critiqued the LAPD's management structure and policing strategies.

"There's an enormous amount that can be done here, an enormous amount that needs to be done," Bratton said. Among his concerns: "The organizational chart currently makes no sense ....[It] looks like it was put together by three blind men.... The department is not strategically engaged in fighting crime.... We have 9,000 officers smiling and waving as they drive around in their cars."

He said he expects to make "extraordinarily sweeping" changes.

Hahn, who rejected former Chief Bernard C. Parks' bid for a second term and who selected Bratton as a replacement, said he supports the new chief's commitment to overhauling the Police Department and will let him make the changes he believes are necessary.

"I have complete confidence in Bill Bratton," the mayor said.

Asked if he is concerned about any of the potential changes in the department, Hahn quickly responded: "I'm worried if we don't change."

In an interview, the mayor said he is working to help Bratton find money in the budget to hire consultants to examine specific areas of the department to develop new proposals. Bratton said he has asked four people to help him with ideas.

One is George Kelling, who, along with James Q. Wilson, helped develop the "broken windows" theory of policing that argues for early police intervention on small problems in order to head off more serious crime in the future.

Bratton said he has also asked Bob Wasserman, who worked with him in New York, to help with the transition. Bill Andrews -- who has previously helped Bratton write speeches, articles and internal communications -- also will advise the new administration. And John Linder, who also worked with Bratton in the New York Police Department, will assist with expanding the LAPD's computerized crime-fighting efforts.

Bratton was sworn in by J. Michael Carey, the city clerk, standing in front of the mayor; Police Commission President Rick Caruso; Cmdr. Sharon Papa; Cmdr. Jim McDonnell; and interim Chief Martin Pomeroy. Bratton then signed several documents making his tenure as the 54th police chief official. He joked as he was handed a second batch of signature pages, "Is this for the $44 payment to park in the garage?"

"It's official," Papa said a few seconds later, and he gave her a double thumbs-up.

After shaking Papa's hand, Caruso said: "Good luck. Take care. The new team. The A-team."

When he emerged from his swearing-in, Bratton beamed, joking with a reporter who called him chief. "Yeah, you can officially call me chief now."

As they then flew to Arrowhead, Hahn pointed out several landmarks to his newly arrived chief, who smiled broadly for most of the trip. At one point, when the helicopter flew above the clouds just as the sun began to shine, he said: "Pinch me."

A public swearing-in ceremony for Bratton will take place at 11 a.m. Monday on the training field at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park.

McDonnell is heading Bratton's transition team, and Papa is expected to secure an important position in the new police administration. Other officers are awaiting word of their fates.

McDonnell recently directed all 114 captains, commanders and chiefs to submit their resumes, photos, accomplishments and plans for the future for Bratton's review.

"I have 339 ideas," Bratton said.

He added that he is interviewing several of those officials in the upper echelon of the department before making any final decisions on his command staff. He noted that Civil Service rules limit his ability to remove someone immediately. Still, he said he expects to name three assistant chiefs and other deputy chiefs as well to form what he called "a new, energized command staff."

Bratton said he expects the full cooperation of the rank and file. After all, he said, the mayor has supported the police union this year, in particular by agreeing to a more flexible work schedule for officers. Now, Bratton said, the union needs to "step up to that."

He was blunt about his expectations: "There will be no resistance. If there is resistance, they'll be gone. There's no room for resistance in the LAPD."

Instead, Bratton said he wants police officers to be aggressive in their duties.

"A ship in a safe harbor is not what a ship was meant to do," Bratton said. "A cop riding around in a car ... is not what a cop is meant to do."

Hahn said he expects to support whatever plans Bratton has for reorganizing the department.

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