William J. Bratton arrived in Los Angeles a year ago promising to make the city the safest in the United States. In a review of Bratton’s year, the Los Angeles Times recalls that after a month on the job, he faced a homicide surge: 16 in five days. “I was extraordinarily frustrated,” Bratton, 56, told the Times. “I was questioning what I had gotten myself into.”
At the time Bratton took over, arrests were down, many neighborhoods viewed officers with suspicion, veteran officers had left, gang units were largely dismantled, and most detectives worked day shifts, not on duty in the high-crime hours.
Now, the Times says homicides are down 23 percent, with all violent crime down 4.5 percent. Arrests are up 12 percent. Complaints against police also have risen by 12 percent. Only Los Angeles among major U.S. cities appears headed toward a significant drop in homicides this year.
Bratton takes some credit: “Crime just doesn’t change on its own, particularly when it goes down as dramatically as it has. Other than changes in the Police Department with very strong and specific focus on crime reduction – particularly gang crime – you’d be hard-pressed to identify anything else that would have prompted it.”
Bratton say he will stay for his full five-year term as chief. “I’m not going anywhere,” Bratton said this summer. “I just bought a $1.5-million home. I get a pension out of this place after five years that’s worth a fortune. My wife has just changed jobs. We happen to like living in Los Angeles. Why would I want to leave?”