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Bratton Hires Irvine Chief

The LAPD's leader appoints veteran reformer Michael Berkow as his deputy chief, heading internal affairs for starters.

March 20, 2003|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton has tapped Irvine Police Chief Michael Berkow, who has made a reputation for reforming police agencies and targeting municipal corruption, as his new deputy chief, with initial responsibility for internal affairs.

Berkow, 47, will become the first high-ranking sworn officer other than the chief to come from outside the ranks of the LAPD.

"LAPD is a truly rare department, with not only a national but international reputation. I am humbled to be offered this job," Berkow said.

Bratton knows Berkow well. The Irvine chief worked as a consultant in Boston and New York during Bratton's tenures in those cities.

"He is a dynamic and innovative thinker," said LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Hillmann. "This is a real shot in the arm for the LAPD."

Jeff van der Sluys Veer, detective and president of the Irvine Police Officers Assn., said Berkow's most noteworthy accomplishment during his 19-month Irvine tenure was instituting "geographic policing" in the city. He said individual officers are now assigned to patrol specific areas of the city "to do real community policing," instead of patrolling throughout the city.

For the U.S. Department of Justice in the 1990s, he helped rebuild police forces in Somalia and Haiti. He also worked with President Jimmy Carter overseeing elections in Jamaica.

In South Pasadena, where he was chief from 1997 to 2001, he turned around a department mired in scandal. In quick succession, he established a residents' complaint process, reformed training and evidence handling and replaced equipment. He also arrested two department employees in a theft case.

As police chief of Coachella in Riverside County, he was credited with cleaning up a department whose reputation was so tarnished that other police agencies refused to share narcotics intelligence, according to state officials.

He arrested the majority of the City Council, and his boss, the city manager, who was later convicted of misuse of public funds.

As a young officer in Rochester, N.Y., he worked the night beat while attending law school at Syracuse University.

He then spent a year working as a 1st Amendment lawyer and another year clerking for a federal judge. During his 15 years in Rochester, Berkow led a task force that brought about the arrest and prosecution of the city's former police chief on corruption charges.

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Times staff writer H.G. Reza contributed to this report.

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