More questions than answers on Bratton *

More than three dozen journalists, nearly 20 cameras and city officials packed in the mayor's conference room for LAPD chief William Bratton's announcement that he's leaving for New York and the private sector. For the most part, the reporters left not knowing as much as they would like. Bratton is staying until Oct. 31 — a week after the new LAPD headquarters opens — then going to run a subsidiary focused on international police consulting for Altegrity Inc. The firm's CEO, Michael Cherlasky, was until a few weeks ago the federal monitor overseeing LAPD compliance with a federal consent decree. Bratton will address the LAPD's command staff at 3 p.m. at the police academy. Notes:

  • Mayor Villaraigosa praised Bratton as one of the finest public servants in the U.S. and gave him credit for transforming the LAPD from a troubled and mistrusted institution into one "that is playing a positive role in our community...Because of him, Los Angeles is the safest it has been in half a century...We've worked together magnificently."
  • Villaraigosa said Bratton's successor could come from within the LAPD but would have to emerge from a national search as the best candidate. He said he assumes many of the top cops in the U.S. will be interested.
  • Bratton said this was the right time to leave "personally and professionally." He stressed the job opportunity as well as his and his wife's desire to return to New York. "It has been a remarkable seven years, but it is time to move on."
  • Bratton said when he came the LAPD "was a very troubled organization is what was a very troubled city." He declared victory in professionalizing the department and in using the LAPD to ease racial tensions in Los Angeles, adding that "we are now a majority minority department, We look like and are the Los Angeles community."
  • Bratton and Villaraigosa were vague as to how long the chief had been in discussions about leaving. The mayor said today's meeting was scheduled some time ago, but that he didn't learn until last night that Bratton was leaving. The chief dodged a question from KFWB's Claudia Peschiutta about whether the discussions about the job began while Cherkasky was still the LAPD's federal monitor. The consent decree was lifted in mid July.
  • Bratton worked for Cherkasky as a consultant before taking the LAPD job seven years ago.
  • In answer to a question about putting his house on the market last month, Bratton said he faced a large bump in his variable mortgage that meant "I would be literally in the poor house." Minutes earlier he said, "I'm extraordinarily well paid" at $330,000 a year, almost double what his New York counterpart makes.
  • Bratton also cited being closer to his 83-year-old father as another reason to move.
  • Bratton quotes: "We succeeded in making this city one of the safest in the country...I've been at the buffet table for seven years. It may be time for someone who is hungrier to step up...."
  • Police Commission president John Mack: "He's been a superstar police chief....He has transformed the Los Angeles Police Department into a 21st century police department."
  • Villaraigosa tweet: "Arriving in the LAPD's darkest hour, Chief Bratton helped reinstate a sense of community in a City once plagued by violence and mistrust."
  • Bratton was on KPCC talking to Jon Beaupre (guest host for Patt Morrison) within an hour of the press conference.
  • In addition to the usual City Hall press corps there were reporters on hand from the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, the Downtown News and Blogdowntown. An LAPD video crew taped the whole thing. Channel 7 had three trucks parked outside.
  • Villaraigosa's chief of staff, Robin Kramer, and legal counsel, Thomas Saenz, squeezed into the back of the room to observe.
  • Police Protective League president Paul Weber put out a statement saying, in part, "Chief Bratton has served our City with honor and professionalism, and his shoes will be tough to fill. While we may not have agreed with the Chief on all of the issues, the LAPPL appreciates the working relationship it shared with Bratton. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
  • Pseudonymous LAPD cop Jack Dunphy weighs in for the department's old school clique, writing at the National Review: "He leaves the LAPD in a far better condition than when he arrived, and for all my many criticisms of Bratton over the years, that fact simply cannot be ignored...But I will say this: It was the corrosive influence of identity politics that burdened the LAPD with the affable but hapless Willie Williams and the tyrannical Bernard Parks, under both of whom the department suffered badly. Such influences will no doubt come into play in the coming months, but I hope those charged with selecting the new chief will be wise enough to put them aside. May the best man (or woman) win."
  • Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce statement, in part: "Chief Bratton is a true leader who will be missed by all who had the pleasure of working with him.”
  • Stories: LA Biz Observed, LAT, DN, NYT
  • Former LAPD official George Gascon would be a good candidate to succeed Bratton, but he becomes chief in San Francisco on Friday.

Bratton's message to the LAPD follows after the jump:

* Post has been updated with new info a couple of times

Earlier today, Wednesday, August 5th, I met with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to inform him of my intention to resign my position as Chief of our great Department effective October 31st, so that I may pursue new professionalization of policing opportunities in the private sector. There is never a good time to leave a job and a Department that you love and enjoy, but there is always a right time. That time has now come for me professionally and personally to seek new career challenges.

Since my appointment as Chief of this extraordinary Department in October 2002, by then Mayor James Hahn, we have travelled together on an exciting and successful journey - through good times and bad - meeting crises, challenge and opportunity with consistent optimism, confidence and resolve.

You and I committed to five overarching goals in 2002, and as of today, we can all take justifiable pride and satisfaction in knowing that we have in large measure met and continued to expand their impact in our ultimate purpose for being: to protect and to serve all the residents of this great City. We committed to reduce crime, fear, and disorder, and we have done that. We committed to keeping the City safer from terrorism and we have done that while establishing national best practices and initiatives. We committed to full implementation of the Federal Consent Decree, and while it took longer than originally anticipated, we have done that. We campaigned to grow the Department by 1,000 officers and with the focused leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and the support of the City Council and voters we are doing that. We also committed to Bias-Free Policing, to ensure that all the residents and visitors to our City of Angels would be the benefactors of constitutional, compassionate, consistent policing in every neighborhood. The recent Harvard Study and Los Angeles Times poll have conclusively shown that a significant majority of all Angelinos feel that you are succeeding. It will not be easy to leave because, while much has been done, there is still much more that can be done. But having met the personal and professional challenges that I set for myself, I feel that this is an appropriate time for new leadership to move the Department forward and meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you for the honor, the privilege and the enjoyment of working with you, and for the opportunity to tell your story during these past seven years. I hope that each of you in some way, no matter what your position, felt that you were part of what I believe will be a very special time in the history of the Department – our Department – a Department that is without question second to none. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to be your chief.

All the best,

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