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Los Angeles

No Bobbie Hat for Bratton

Police chief rejects rumors that he's a candidate to head New Scotland Yard.

August 24, 2004|Richard Winton and Janet Stobart | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton isn't about to cross the Atlantic Ocean and become Bobbie Bill anytime soon, he insists.

Yet some of Great Britain's most eminent newspapers in recent days named him as a top contender for the job of Metropolitan Police commissioner, the legendary head of New Scotland Yard. One referred to him as the "Yank of the Yard."

But Bratton said he would not go. In an interview Monday, Bratton said that was exactly what he told one top London official who inquired whether he would be interested.

"I made it quite clear that I am flattered to be considered. But I am not going anywhere," he said.

Bratton, appointed Los Angeles chief in September 2002, said it is not a matter of never, but for now he won't be joining the tea and scones crowd.

"I would like to do it in the future. I am here for three more years and possibly eight years," Bratton said in his downtown office, surrounded by police memorabilia, including a London Bobbie's hat.

The chief said he is leaning toward seeking a second five-year term in Los Angeles.

He said he has unfinished business and called a 23% drop in homicides last year only the beginning of the kind of progress in the fight against crime that can be achieved.

The man who privately solicited Bratton was Bob Kiley, former New York City subway boss and now head of the London Tube and bus system, the chief said. Kiley works for Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Kiley was Bratton's boss when as transit police chief, Bratton created his zero-tolerance approach to crime, then went on to become New York City Police commissioner.

"I am extremely well-known in the British Isles, and, like to think, well-respected by government officials. Home Secretary David Blunkett is a big fan," Bratton said.

The British Sunday Times in its gossip diary, Atticus, summed up Bratton's credentials thusly: "The crime buster whose zero-tolerance policing is credited with reducing New York's punks to sniveling wimps ... " The Financial Times reported Saturday that Bratton was being considered.

The lanes of London town aren't unfamiliar territory to Bratton. Before coming to Los Angeles, he said, he worked as a consultant to Livingstone's London transit to beef up its police unit, and with Blunkett's Home Office, which decides who will succeed Sir John Stevens when he retires early next year as head of the Yard.

Blunkett has already turned stateside for another of his top cops. Paul Evans, Boston's former commissioner, now oversees police standards for the Home Office.

Officially, Jack Jones of the Metropolitan Police Authority denied it had solicited anyone for the job. The deadline for applications ended last week.

An ad for the job describes the London post as "the most challenging and rewarding job in policing in the U.K., if not the world."

The favorite by many accounts is Stevens' deputy, Sir Ian Blair. "Ian Blair will make an extraordinarily good candidate," Bratton said.

Bratton and his wife, attorney and court commentator Rikki Klieman, swapped their New York co-op and Long Island perch for a Hollywood Hills pad. And he said he is finally staying somewhere long enough to get a pension.

When he arrived, Bratton said, he would tell people it was their neighborhood. Now he says it is "our community because this is where my wife and I call home."

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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