L.A. Police Chief Resigns

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton is resigning today after seven years on the job. The decision is seen as a surprise. During his tenure, Bratton instituted vast reforms of the once-scandalized police department.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand.

Here in Los Angeles, the police chief is better known than some of the celebrities in town. William Bratton is one of the most highly respected police chiefs in America. And that's why a lot of people were shocked today when he said he is resigning to take a job in the private sector. Not even his boss -the mayor - knew what Bratton was planning.

NPR's Ina Jaffe covered today's big announcement. She joins me now from City Hall. And Ina, why is he going? I understand he has a couple of years left on his contract.

INA JAFFE: Yeah, he does, Madeleine. But he just got an offer that was too good to refuse, as they say. In this case, it was from a company called Altegrity. It's based in New York. And what he's going to be doing there is starting and building a new division for the company. He's going to be going all over the world and working with emerging democracies and post-conflict nations and trying to teach them everything that he's learned in his career about how to run a first-rate civilian police force.

BRAND: All right. Let's listen to a bit what Chief Bratton had to say today as he announced his resignation.

Mr. WILLIAM BRATTON (Former Chief of Police, Los Angeles): When you love what you do, when you love the people you get to do it with, when you love the way you do it, it was never a good time to leave. But there was a right time. And for me personally and professionally at this time, it is the right time.

BRAND: Ina, William Bratton is given credit for overhauling the Los Angeles Police Department that was just rocked by scandal. What has he done to turn things around?

JAFFE: Well, you're right about the scandal. It was known as the Rampart Scandal in the 1990s. Police officers, anti-gang officers were accused of framing suspects and beating them and stealing drugs and money. And so the department was under a big consent decree from the Justice Department, (unintelligible) Justice Department. And he put into place every single thing -just about - that was asked of this department by the federal government.

And that decree was just lifted, finally, after years, a couple of weeks ago. And so that's one reason that he can move on. He put in a computerized way of monitoring crime that showed where crime was worse in the city and what needed the most attention. It was very time sensitive. And that is credited with having the lowest crime rates in the city in some categories of crime since the 1950s.

BRAND: All right, so what's next for the LAPD? Where are they going to find another chief Bratton?

JAFFE: Well, they say they can find one within their ranks. Now, the search for the next chief is going to be open to anybody from anywhere who wants to apply. But the mayor and the chief both spoke very highly of the command structure that Bratton had put in place in the LAPD and said that there were plenty of qualified people right here to carry on his work.

BRAND: Thank you, Ina.

JAFFE: You're welcome, Madeleine.

BRAND: That's NPR's Ina Jaffe reporting from City Hall in Los Angeles on William Bratton's decision to resign as Los Angeles police chief.

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