Speaking at a town hall meeting in Reseda, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said Wednesday night the San Fernando Valley would benefit along with the rest of the city from the top-to-bottom reforms he is proposing to strengthen his department and its partnership with the community.
The new chief repeated his intention to crack down on the profusion of guns on city streets and to root out hard-core street gangs. "Job one is going to be reducing crime throughout the city," Bratton said. "We can beat the gangbangers. We can beat the terrorists."
His appearance before several hundred in the Reseda High School auditorium capped a busy itinerary for Bratton, who has crisscrossed the city several times in recent weeks as part of a get-acquainted tour.
Bratton began the day at the West Valley Division. He later was on hand with Mayor James K. Hahn to dedicate a West Valley regional public library branch and at a groundbreaking for a new West Valley police station, which will replace the existing Reseda facility. The station is scheduled to be completed in 2005.
Bratton returned to Parker Center downtown only to head off again to Highland Park for a "meet the mayor" event, which consisted of one-on-one discussions with selected constituents on public safety and other issues.
At that event, Bratton heard from a woman whose son's friend was gunned down by gang members at a party. Rosa Rivas praised the work of the senior lead officer in her community but said he could not do the job alone and asked that new Police Academy graduates be assigned to the Northeast Division. Bratton vowed to move more officers to areas where they are most needed.
Most of Bratton's time, however, was spent in the Valley. With the vote on Valley secession a few days away, neither Hahn nor Bratton mentioned it specifically in their remarks. Bratton's only public response on the issue occurred the day he was named chief. "I can't even begin to imagine why [anyone] would want to secede from L.A.," he said at the time.