Crime is down, arrests are up, and the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department are on the rise. Yet, says the Los Angeles Times, Police Chief William Bratton continues to struggle with the task of mending historic divisions between the department and some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods as he seeks an unprecedented second five-year term. “A major reason why I came to Los Angeles was to deal with this issue of the divisiveness in the city in a sense that it never seemed to be able to heal itself,” he said.
The department has taken steps to bridge the gap, winning the praise of reform advocates, including former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who believe the LAPD is better today than it was when Bratton took over. By most accounts, Bratton has made enough progress, especially in reducing crime, to win the confidence of Los Angeles’ political leadership. As a result, he is likely to be reappointed by the mayor’s Police Commission next month, becoming the first chief to receive a second term since the City Charter was revised in 1992. Stephen Tibbetts, a criminologist at Cal State San Bernardino, is among those who believe it is likely that crime would have decreased in Los Angeles even if Bratton had not been chief. Tibbetts said Bratton brings great skill to the job, his leadership has improved officer morale, and his use of a computer analysis system has helped pinpoint crime hot spots more effectively. “He probably increased the rate” that crime went down, Tibbetts said.