Allegations of police abuse at the MacArthur Park immigration rally have thrust Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton into a political minefield where he must address concerns about out-of-control cops without alienating his force of 9,500 officers, says the Los Angeles Times. Public outrage over the violence – 30 civilians were struck by police officers wielding batons and firing foam projectiles – occurred as the Police Commission was poised to reappoint him to a second five-year term. Bratton wasted no time declaring that his department won’t tolerate what he called the disturbing tactics captured on news videos and broadcast worldwide.
Bratton’s recent predecessors, Bernard Parks, Willie Williams and Daryl Gates, were ousted in part because they failed to maintain adequate support from not only city residents and elected leaders but also from police rank and file. Bratton’s handling of the May Day controversy is testing all of his political skills and proving to be his most significant challenge since becoming chief in 2002. Last week, the city police union board asked Bratton for an apology and warned that the 59-year-old chief was treading in dangerous territory by making remarks denigrating the character of police. “It’s quite a tightrope he’s walking right now,” said attorney Constance Rice, who has studied LAPD management for years.