Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has been named one of Governing magazine’s nine public officials of the year. Governing notes that when then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani named Bratton police commissioner in the 1990s, he promised to cut crime by 40 percent in three years. Twenty-seven months later, when Bratton resigned, felony crime in New York City was down 39 percent, homicides were down by 50 percent.
Says Governing: “Henceforth, American police chiefs were judged by one thing: Is crime up or down? According to Bill Bratton, that’s the way it should be. ‘If you have a police chief that can’t get crime down, get yourself a new police chief,’ he says.” Governing acknowledges that criminologists pointed to nationwide crime declines in the ’90s and asked if Bratton’s achievements were really unique. Now in Los Angeles, the 60-year-old Bratton also triumphed. In his first five years, major felonies have fallen by 30 percent, with homicides down 38 percent and overall violent crime down 46 percent. No wonder that L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has embraced his police chief, pushing through an increase in the trash-collection fee that will allow for add 1,000 new officers.