- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

LOS ANGELES | Police Chief William Bratton stunned the city Wednesday by announcing that he will step down after a seven-year tenure in which he instituted major reforms of the once-scandalized Police Department and began a turnaround of its relations with minorities.

“For me personally and professionally it is the right time,” Chief Bratton, 61, told a City Hall news conference where he revealed that he would begin working with a global security firm in Virginia.

Chief Bratton said when he came to the police department, “it was a troubled organization in what was arguably a very troubled city.”

He cited achievements since then in dramatically reversing what had been increasing crime rates and in keeping Los Angeles safe from potential terrorist attacks in the post-9/11 era.

But he hoped his legacy would be improvements in race relations.

“I believe we have turned a corner in that issue, in that this is a city that is proud of its racial diversity, it is a city where people work together. It is my belief that the Los Angeles Police Department has played a significant role in bringing that about,” he said.

Chief Bratton’s resignation will be effective Oct. 31. He will then join Altegrity Inc. of Falls Church focusing on bringing professional policing to emerging nations.

His departure, less than halfway through his second term, caught city leaders unaware.

“I’m in mourning today,” said John Mack, a high-profile black member of the civilian Police Commission who in his past role as leader of the Los Angeles Urban League was a frequent critic of the department.

“The people of Los Angeles are safer than they’ve been in half a lifetime,” added City Council President Eric Garcetti, crediting Chief Bratton for reforms and for knocking down the crime rate to levels not seen in decades.

Chief Bratton’s decision came just weeks after a judge released the department from eight years of oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice, which had purported a long pattern of abuse.

Former Mayor James Hahn, who originally picked Chief Bratton, said the results speak for themselves.

“The consent decree has been lifted, crime is down, and the community has much greater confidence in the department and its professionalism,” said Mr. Hahn, now a county judge.

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