Los Angeles magazine hosted one of its periodic breakfast gatherings with newsmakers this morning at The Foundry on Melrose, with LAPD chief William Bratton invited to give an exit interview to editor Mary Melton. Bratton said he's confident the bad, old LAPD culture in which the cops felt at war with the city — which he ascribed to the management of former chiefs William Parker and Daryl Gates — has been put to rest in favor of more effective community-based policing. "Most of he Parker-Gates generation is gone," Bratton said, noting that almost all of the top commanders he inherited have moved on or been reassigned. But he warned that City Hall politicians and the next chief will be under tremendous pressure to roll back the LAPD's progress, especially under the guise of budgetary pressures. He was critical of the City Council for trying to stop the department's growth, and in response to a question singled out Councilman Bernard Parks as a "micro, micro, micro manager." Tidbits:
- The city's dropping crime is directly attributable to the change of policing culture he instilled, Bratton said. And he said the worsening economy has caused no uptick. From 1,100 or so murders in 1990, this year the city will have about 300, he said.
- If the City Council stops the department's growth toward 10,000 officers it should refund part of the trash fee hike it promoted for funding police.
- About those three officers charged this week with lying on a police report and in court: "Perjury is the worst sin a police officer can commit."
- A single terrorism incident would do more harm to the city's image and economy than 50 gang murders, Bratton said in defense of his keeping 300 officers on anti-terror duties.
- He prefers the so-called strong mayor system of governance in New York and calls LA's weak mayor system "unfortunate." "I have to go through about five city council committees to hire anybody," he said, and repeated his past remark that pols in L.A. hold grudges more than in New York, saying it holds things back here.
- With the growth of blogs and the decline of the traditional media, "Arianna Huffington probably has as much influence" as the L.A. Times and the Daily News.
- Bratton praised "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City," the recent book by John Buntin, as "a phenomenal history" of the department's roots.
- Bratton relocated to the chief's office in the new police building yesterday and calls the headquarters "truly a monument to public safety in this city."
- His house in Los Feliz still has not sold, and he says "I will not miss the constancy of the weather" in L.A.
The Times' Joel Rubin and KPCC's Frank Stoltze covered this one. Others attending included former councilman Jack Weiss, ThinkCure! chief Janet Clayton, NBC's Josh Mankiewicz, Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman, The Planning Report publisher David Abel and bloggers Mickey Kaus, Celeste Fremon and Michael Schneider, among others.