Never at a loss for words when there is an audience, Police Chief William J. Bratton is taking his Boston Irish gift for gab to a new venue starting today when the Los Angeles Police Department launches its first Internet blog.
In between telling readers about the good things happening in the LAPD and enlisting the public's help in the war on crime, the outspoken chief and his staff plan to use the new vehicle to rebut news media coverage that they think is misleading or unfair, according to Bratton.
"I see the blog, which is first and foremost a department blog, as an opportunity to communicate with the public and educate them about what we are doing at the LAPD," Bratton said Thursday.
"But I also see it as an opportunity for me to respond to those issues where I feel the department is being misrepresented," the chief added.
Although the blog is officially an LAPD blog and will be maintained by a police lieutenant and his staff, the loquacious Bratton is expected to regularly submit postings.
The interactive LAPD blog is the next step in an upgrade of the department's website that began in March. It has since seen the number of monthly visits grow from 13 million to 30 million, according to department spokeswoman Mary Grady, who is overseeing creation of the blog.
Not only will the chief and the department be able to write postings to the public, but people who register with the blog will be able to offer their written comments in response, Grady said.
The idea of a Police Department blog has both potential and some drawbacks, according to Larry Gross, director of USC's Annenberg School for Communication.
Gross said many of the people the LAPD would most like to reach, including residents of poorer neighborhoods where crime and police activity are high, probably are not regular users of the Internet.
On the other hand, the blog may allow new interaction between the police and the policed, he said.
"It creates at least an opportunity for a kind of individual concern to reach the eyes and ears of the top hierarchy without going through the channels that might screen it out," Gross said.
The LAPD will reserve the right to withhold comments that are offensive, but it will not shy away from posting criticism, and the command staff is expected to read the blog, officials said.
Starting this morning, the Los Angeles Police Department's blog can be accessed through the LAPD website, which is at http://www.lapdonline.org, or directly at LAPDblog.org.