On the eve of beginning his second term, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton predicted that crime in the city would continue to decline unless budget cuts prevent him from launching several initiatives, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bratton told the Times he planned to expand homicide investigation teams, initiate programs to battle street gangs, and divide the San Fernando Valley into two command zones that would make it easier to manage the growing number of officers being sent there.
Bratton’s first five-year term was marked by a 36 percent decline in murders and a 31 percent drop in all serious crimes, rates reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s. He has often referred to Los Angeles as the nation’s most under-policed big city. Over the last year his 9,500-member force has grown by 300 under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s drive to expand the department by at least 1,000 officers. “Act 2 is going to better than Act 1,” the chief said. “Crime is going to continue to go down.  You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Bratton cautioned that budget woes — including a threatened loss of a telephone users tax now being challenged in court — have created uncertainty. “I do not want to really start planning for new initiatives when I don’t know if I will have money basically to maintain current initiatives,” the chief said.