Daily News, Los Angeles
Oct. 9–As he makes his final rounds across the city, Police Chief Bill Bratton cautioned Thursday against reductions in the Los Angeles Police Department and said he hopes his successor will come from within the agency.
“There is a time for an outsider, time for an insider,” said Bratton, who steps down Oct. 31 to take a private-sector job. “When I was hired, it was time for an outsider. Now, I believe it’s time for an insider.
“I have encouraged all of my top chiefs and commanders to apply for this job.”
Bratton said he has met with several of the top police chiefs from around the nation and he does not believe any of them have applied for the job. He also said he will not be involved in the selection process and would not make a recommendation to the Police Commission or Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Among the accomplishments that he would like to see maintained are the growth of the LAPD to nearly 10,000 officers — despite the city’s budget problems — and keeping some units, such as the nearly 300 officers assigned to anti-terrorism efforts.
The department is launching several new anti-terrorism efforts this year.
One is a new unit in cooperation with federal officials that will involve the sharing of top-secret information about terrorist groups. It will complete plans to bring the anti-terrorist unit in direct communication with the LAPD brass, all of whom have received top-level clearance by the federal government in the years since 9-11.
Bratton said the department would be one of the few sites in the nation designated as SCIF — Sensitive Compartmented Intelligence Facility — designed as a clearinghouse for information on terrorist activity.
“We got this because Los Angeles remains a top terrorist target,” Bratton said. “It is a testatment to the work of this department on anti-terrorism.”
As he leaves, Bratton also said he is promoting another anti-terrorist program, iWATCH, in which the public is encouraged to watch out for and report suspicious behavior that could be linked to terrorism.
The program, explained in detail at http://www.iwatchla.org, is the equivalent of a neighborhood watch program, educating the public about what types of behavior to look out for and report.
Bratton’s main concern, however, is with the size of the LAPD. The Los Angeles City Council is to consider a proposal on Tuesday to freeze hiring of new officers.
“With what the council is proposing, we project that would reduce the size of the department by 300 to 400 officers,” Bratton said. “I am very concerned about that. If we continue having to reduce the size of the department, they could do it again next year.”
Several City Council members have questioned if the city can afford to maintain a force of 10,000 officers — particularly with crime at historic low levels — while financing other city programs.
Even the Los Angeles Police Protective League has questioned the city’s continued hiring of new officers at a time when it is considering other furloughs and layoffs.
Bratton argued it is difficult for the city to maintain a consistent hiring program if it has a stop-and-start effort.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, however, said Bratton is misinterpreting the council proposal.
“We are not cutting the department,” Perry said. “We just are deciding whether to grow it. This has to do with what we can afford as a city and living within our means.”
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