L.A. Police Chief, Stuns City, Resigns

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton shocked the city when he announced Wednesday that he is resigning. He's leaving to take a job in the private sector. Bratton is credited with overhauling a scandal plagued department and restoring its public image.

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A man credited with cutting crime in New York and then cleaning up the police in Los Angeles says it's time to go to the private sector. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports on the resignation of L.A. Police Chief William Bratton.

INA JAFFE: Bratton was in uniform for his resignation announcement. He said it was a uniform he loved wearing just as he loved wearing the badge of the LAPD. But he had a lot of reasons to leave - both personal and professional.

First is the job he will be taking in New York, creating a new division of a private security firm called Altegrity.

Mr. WILLIAM BRATTON (Former Police Commissioner, Los Angeles Police Department): We will be specifically working in post-conflict nations -Afghanistan, Iraq and other emerging democracies - to bring professional law and criminal justice systems to those countries.

JAFFE: On a personal level, that job will also bring him back to New York, where he was once head of the police department and where his wife still works in cable television. He'll also be closer to this native Boston, where his father lives.

Mr. BRATTON: Dad's 83 - just had his 83rd birthday - and he'll only be 200 miles away rather than 3,000.

JAFFE: When Bratton took over the LAPD seven years ago it had been plagued by charges of corruption, racial profiling and excessive force. And it operated under a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave Bratton credit for transforming the city's police force…

Mayor ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (Los Angeles): …into a department seen as a partner, not an adversary; no longer bound by the misdeeds of the past; no longer a roadblock to building a more tolerant and inclusive city; and no longer in need of federal oversight.

JAFFE: In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal judge ended the consent decree, saying that the LAPD was now setting national and international policing standards. The mayor also praised Bratton for dramatically reducing crime, in some cases, to levels not seen since the 1950s.

Standing alongside Bratton was John Mack, former head of the L.A. Urban League and president of the Civilian Police Commission. He said under Bratton's command, the LAPD was not only reducing crime…

Mr. JOHN MACK (Former Head, L.A. Urban League, President, Civilian Police Commission): …but really developing a true partnership between LAPD, and particularly, communities of color.

JAFFE: No word on who will succeed Bratton. He'll stay on the job until the end of October. He says he wants to oversee the opening of the swank new police headquarters - even though he won't be moving in there.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

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