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Bratton to Council: Let's Not Fight

Dinner, beer and hugs. Showing some love may mean never having to say you're sorry.

July 21, 2006|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

While publicly continuing to resist calls for an apology, Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton this week has been reaching out, mostly behind the scenes, to smooth relations with council members upset over what they deemed "unprofessional" statements by the chief.

On Thursday, Bratton appeared at an Eastside news conference with Councilman Jose Huizar, one of five council members who signed a letter last week calling for the Police Commission to investigate the chief.

The investigation was sought after Bratton said in a July 6 television interview that two councilmen, Bernard C. Parks and Dennis Zine, "don't know what the hell they are talking about" in criticizing the LAPD for hiring police recruits who have admitted to onetime drug use in the distant past. The council members were also upset that Bratton told Parks, Bratton's predecessor as chief, and Zine, a former LAPD officer and police union official, to "mind their own business."

Although the purpose of Bratton and Huizar's joint appearance was to announce a reward in a criminal case, the councilman said afterward that he saw it as a good-faith effort by Bratton to work together.

"We committed to work well with each other," Huizar said. "Like any family, there are disagreements, and there was one disagreement, and the chief and I are moving on."

Council President Eric Garcetti, who is demanding that the chief apologize for his public statements, said Thursday that he and the chief have had a good talk and agreed to have dinner together.

"The chief is very methodically reaching out to members of the council," Garcetti said.

Zine, one of the letter-writers, said he and the chief agreed to grab a beer together at a downtown watering hole. But the councilman said he is not withdrawing his request that the Police Commission investigate Bratton.

Signs of a fence-mending first surfaced publicly Wednesday, when the chief shared a hug with Zine at a MacArthur Park news conference.

"There is a dispute over the drug policy, but I have respect and confidence in the chief," Zine said Thursday.

Garcetti said that in his own talks with Bratton there was general agreement to be civil when discussing policy differences.

"I think he understands where I was coming from and why I felt he had stepped over the line," Garcetti said. "The council across the board, whether they signed the letter or not, felt he stepped over the line."

Bratton said he would not apologize for his comments, adding he hoped the council members would just agree to disagree on the hiring issue.

The chief's actions could help with his expected bid for reappointment next year.

If the Police Commission votes to extend his tenure, the 15-member council could overturn it with 10 votes.

Bratton has told people he is intent on that not happening. "He said, 'I'm not going anywhere,' " Garcetti said.

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