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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
NYPD's ex-chief takes LA job
LAPD on patrol
The LAPD has been suffering from low morale
Former New York police chief William Bratton - who pioneered "zero tolerance" policy in the 1990s - has been chosen by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn as his new police commissioner.


If the captains and enough of the rank and file will get in the boat and row with him, surprisingly good things can happen

Constance Rice, civil rights lawyer

Mr Bratton, 54, promised to liberate the Los Angeles force from the shadow of scandal and corruption and restore morale.

Mr Bratton is credited for cutting New York's murder rates in half during his tenure there between 1994 and 1996 - before his feud with then-Mayor Rudolf Giuliani led to his resignation.

The nomination, which was formally announced on Thursday, must now be approved by the Los Angeles city council.

Mr Bratton said he would "wipe clean" the reputation of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and that internal resistance to reform would become a thing of the past.

Discontent

If he is endorsed by the city council, he will take over a force troubled by staff shortages, low morale in the aftermath of corruption scandals, and a rising crime rate.

William Bratton
Bratton seems popular with the unions

Correspondents say Mr Bratton appears to be a popular choice.

"If the captains and enough of the rank and file will get in the boat and row with him, some surprisingly good things can happen," said Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney who has pressed for reform of the LAPD.

Police unions were at loggerheads with his predecessor, Bernard Parks, who was denied a second five-year term.

Mr Parks was seen as a disciplinarian, and introduced systems such as the automatic investigation of every citizen's complaint - which union critics said diverted officers from fighting crime.

Track record

Supporters of Mr Bratton in Los Angeles have waged a lobbying campaign, recalling was they view as his successes in New York.

An LAPD officer questioning a suspect
Recent attempts political correctness have not helped
One of his most effective policies was "community policing" - which gave greater responsibility to local police captains and officers on patrol.

Mr Bratton says this was the key to the dramatic fall in crime in New York.

However some analysts have pointed out that crime rates fell in others cities from the mid-1990s - which could reflect rising the economic boom of that time.

Los Angeles's homicide rate fell to a 30-year low in 1998, but has risen 40% since then and is still climbing.

The LAPD's reputation was undermined in 1991 when policemen were caught on camera beating black motorist Rodney King - leading to devastating riots in 1992.

Further scandals in the late 1990s, along with charges of racial profiling and brutality, led to calls for root-and-branch reforms of the LAPD.

See also:

03 Jul 02 | Crossing Continents
09 Jul 02 | Americas
30 Apr 02 | Americas
30 Apr 02 | Americas
26 Apr 02 | Americas
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