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Bratton coy on naming his choice for chief

As the field narrows to three finalists, outgoing leader says he expects an LAPD insider to get the job.

October 27, 2009|Joel Rubin

As he prepares to step down as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, William J. Bratton reflected Monday on the field of candidates vying to replace him and acknowledged that he has a favorite -- but he's keeping it a secret.

With the Police Commission expected to release the names of the three finalists today, Bratton continued to voice the belief that his replacement should come from within the department. He said he believed it was "unlikely" that any of the three finalists will be outsiders.

"I don't detect any sentiment from anyone in this city for an outsider," he said. "It's been an open competition . . . to show that whoever is chosen was competing against the top people in the country. But I don't think the commission will put an outsider on the list. They only have three spots. They're going to have a very hard time picking the three as it is."

Bratton praised the 11 LAPD deputy and assistant chiefs who applied for the job, but acknowledged that they were not equally qualified to oversee one of the nation's largest and highest-profile police agencies.

"Are all of them equal? No, not at all," he said. "I know them more intimately than anybody. . . . Do I have my own sense who would be best at this particular time and for the particular crises that are on the horizon? I do," said Bratton, who declined to name his favorite.

Bratton said he had no inside information on who the finalists would be, adding that "there are a lot of short fingernails around this building these days."

Each of the inside candidates, along with two outside applicants who work as chiefs in other cities, survived an initial cut and were granted interviews with the commission last week. The department's three assistant chiefs -- Jim McDonnell, Sharon Papa and Earl Paysinger -- and Deputy Chief Charlie Beck are widely seen as front-runners.

Commission members have declined to identify the outside candidates, saying disclosure could harm their careers.

Also on Monday, staffers for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released tentative plans for how the mayor expects to select the new chief.

Barring delays by the commission, the mayor will interview one finalist each day beginning Wednesday. Then, after conferring with an advisory panel, Villaraigosa hopes to announce his nominee on Monday. After that, the nominee will make the rounds, and meet individually with City Council members, who must ultimately ratify the mayor's choice.

If all goes according to plan, the new chief will take over Nov. 10. With Bratton's seven-year tenure concluding at day's end Saturday, the commission is scheduled to hold a special meeting today to name an interim chief.

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

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