Friday, June 22, 2007

LAPD Chief Bratton Rehired: The Facts Outweigh The Media Hype

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton was granted a second and final term Tuesday by the Police Commission, which cited his accomplishments in driving down crime citywide. Bratton is the first police chief to be retained for a second term since voters in 1992 adopted the Christopher Commission reforms stemming from the infamous Rodney King police beating. He was hired to do a job anbd he is doing it. In my opinion, which doesn't count for much, Bratton has done a pretty good job in the city. I want him to fight crime. That's what I pay taxes for. So what if the May Day Melee happened...he didn't do it. A few rogue cops got out of hand. That's human nature. It's not always the right way to react but it happens. Leave Bratton alone over this issue. It'd dead, done, gone. Bury it.

"We agree that Chief Bratton has provided visionary, innovative and progressive leadership for the Los Angeles Police Department," Police Commission President John Mack said. "His is a vision of policing for the 21st century." Mack praised Bratton's handling of the aftermath of a May Day melee in MacArthur Park, at which LAPD officers clashed with demonstrators and journalists during an immigrant rights rally. More than 40 people were injured during the fracas, including five police officers and at least nine members of the news media. "Chief Bratton's response to the extremely disturbing May 1 incident at MacArthur Park, which had caused justified community outrage, represented an important demonstration of enlightened, decisive leadership, particularly the way he addressed the breakdown of command and control problems immediately," Mack said. Mack said the MacArthur Park incident "was extremely disturbing to the Police Commission and recalled memories involving the LAPD of the past. Under Chief Bratton's leadership, the LAPD has made great strides in many areas, despite some of the very disturbing incidents that have caused major setbacks in the court of public opinion," Mack said. "Even though progress has been made, the LAPD still faces future challenges."

The only question is whether the city will finally give Bratton enough cops to do the job. Bratton's policing revolution has shown that rigorously managed law enforcement can change behavior. He has made inroads into Southern California's seemingly implacable gang violence. With anywhere near the manpower of a New York or Chicago police force, he could drive crime down further in L.A.'s most troubled neighborhoods. By doing so, maybe he would refute the central myth of mainstream criminology: that the level of crime is determined by poverty, racism and lack of jobs.

Bratton is one of the best police chiefs in the United States, as evidenced by the reduction in crime in Los Angeles under his watch. Serious crimes have declined 29% between 2001, the year before Bratton became chief, and 2006. That means that last year there were 55,035 fewer victims of robberies, rapes, assaults and other felonies than in 2001. The murder rate has been cut in half. Based on statistics alone, we are fortunate in that he has agreed to stay on for another five years.

It's time that the media give this guy some slack. Nobody is perfect. Our government and President have shown us that. All the attention given to his "trips around the world" and "lack of control" aren't proven by the facts. All of this crap diverts time and energy from the department's one and only mission - crime-fighting.

Isn't that what policing is all about?