Regardless, the termination of the consent decree last month seemed to signal a major turning point for Bratton and his outlook on his tenure at the LAPD. With the department now free of what he believed was the heavy stigma of federal oversight, there appeared to be no big new challenge for Bratton to focus on.
"It has been a remarkable seven years," he said. "But it is time to move on."
Times staff writers Jack Leonard, Maeve Reston, Phil Willon, Richard Winton and David Zahniser contributed to this report.
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Key points in Bratton's tenure
Here are key events in William J. Bratton's tenure as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department:
Oct. 2, 2002: Bratton is selected by Mayor James K. Hahn to lead the department.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, August 16, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
Bratton timeline: In the Aug. 6 Section A, a timeline of Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton's tenure said that he dismissed "several commanders" after the 2007 May Day melee in MacArthur Park. In fact, two commanders departed: One was demoted and retired, the other reassigned to office work.
Oct. 29, 2002: During a gathering of the LAPD's top leaders, Bratton warns that the city may become "the murder capital of the United States." He vows to fight gang violence and put more officers on the streets.
November 2002: He brings to Los Angeles the computerized crime-fighting program Compstat, which he started when he headed the New York Police Department. Compstat uses statistics to help identify crime patterns and deploy officers.
Nov. 20, 2002: More than 250 officers move through downtown Los Angeles' skid row, one of the city's most crime-ridden districts. It's the beginning of a push by Bratton to clean up the area.
Dec. 3, 2002: Bratton declares an all-out assault on the city's street gangs, saying the LAPD will use the same tactics that crippled the Mafia to pursue gang leaders and members.
Dec. 31, 2002: The LAPD reports 660 homicides, a 10% increase from the year before.
Feb. 1, 2003: Bratton announces the "broken windows" approach to policing for some parts of L.A. This involves targeting quality-of-life crimes to avoid more serious crimes.
May 2003: The City Council rejects Bratton's request for more officers, which prompts a public spat between the chief and some council members.
December 2003: Homicides are down by nearly a quarter, and gun violence dips by double digits. Some South L.A. neighborhoods see a 50% decline in homicides.
June 2004: The televised beating of a suspected car thief by a flashlight-wielding officer brings Bratton a new crisis. He wins general praise for his handling of the incident.
August 2004: Bratton moves to ban officers' use of large metal flashlights and tightens rules on use-of-force investigations.
November 2004: A county tax measure to pay for more police officers fails despite Bratton's strong support.
December 2004: Major crimes drop 10.5% while violent crime for the year is down 13.6%.
Feb. 6, 2005: An officer shoots and kills unarmed 13-year-old African American Devon Brown in South Los Angeles as the boy backs a car toward the officer. The shooting ignites anger in the black community and raises questions over LAPD officers' shooting at cars. Bratton moves to redraw policy on such shootings.
July 2005: While trying to rescue 19-month-old Suzie Pena from her armed father's arms, the LAPD SWAT team kills the girl and her father. The chief proposes reforms in SWAT but maintains that the father was responsible for the child's death.
December 2005: Major crimes for the year dropped across all categories and geographical areas.
July 2006: Longtime LAPD critic Connie Rice declares: "LAPD is not your grandfather's LAPD," adding that the chief is "a gifted and tenacious leader, has a policing vision that is putting the LAPD on the right road."
May 2007: LAPD officers clash with reporters and demonstrators during a May Day event in MacArthur Park. Bratton says he has "grave concerns" about the tactics the LAPD used. He later dismisses several commanders.
June 2007: Bratton becomes first LAPD chief since the 1992 riots to be appointed to a second term.
December 2007: End-of-year crime statistics show homicides are at their lowest level since the 1970s.
March 2008: L.A. officials agree to hire hundreds of new police officers.
December 2008: Crime rates for the year are down again in Los Angeles.
July 2009: Bratton puts his Los Feliz home up for sale but says he's staying in L.A.
July 2009: In a big victory for Bratton, a federal judge lifts the consent decree imposed in the wake of the Rampart corruption scandal.
RICHARD WINTON / Los Angeles Times
Most likely contenders for chief's job
These are some of the possible candidates to succeed William J. Bratton as head of the Los Angeles Police Department:
Position: Deputy chief; chief of detectives
Years in the LAPD: 32
Married with three children
Education: Cal State Long Beach, bachelor of arts in occupational studies-vocational arts