LAPD Chief Bill Bratton Tuesday won a second five-year term as head of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Police Commission's choice marks the first time an LAPD chief has won a second term since voters approved term limits in the wake of the Rodney King beating. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.
Frank Stoltze: The decision to keep Bratton rested with the five-member civilian police commission.
John Mack: All in favor of the motion to reappoint William Bratton to a second term as chief of police of the city of Los Angeles, all in favor?
Stoltze: Commissioners voted unanimously to give the chief another five-year term. In a city that's often maintained contentious relationships with its police chiefs, the mood was unusually jovial as commission president John Mack and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa met with reporters following the vote.
Mack: Well, it was a close call. He had to pay us off.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: Just kidding, everybody. (Laughs)
Mack: Yes, that's a joke. That is a joke.
Stoltze: Bratton enjoys broad City Hall support, largely because he's reduced crime and embraced court-ordered federal reforms. He's also savvy about politics and the news media, often charming elected officials and reporters.
Police Commissioners say they were concerned with what happened in MacArthur Park, where LAPD cops fired rubber bullets and hit immigrant rights marchers and journalists. But they and Mayor Villaraigosa don't blame Bratton.
Mayor Villaraigosa: Chief Bratton's leadership in the wake of the May 1st incident was fair and decisive. His actions have been swift and transparent.
Chief Bill Bratton: On behalf of my wife Rikki and I, our sincere thank you.
Stoltze: The 59-year-old Bratton promises to reduce crime further and to increase the size of the department by 1,000 officers during his second term.
Chief Bratton: They can be the best police department in America, the most successful police department in America, and in the years ahead, they will be all of that.
Stoltze: When reporters asked whether he'll serve the full five years of his second term, the man Villaraigosa's called "transparent" hardly gave a clear answer before the mayor cut reporters off.
Chief Bratton: My appointment is for five years and I intend to enjoy those five years, believe me.
[Reporter starts to ask question]
Mayor Villaraigosa: Good, thank you very much.
Stoltze: Still, Police Commissioner Anthony Pacheco called Bratton's reappointment a "defining moment" for the city and the LAPD.
Anthony Pacheco: It's a defining moment because it represents, at least to me, the idea of reform – sustained, innovative, practical reform when it comes to this department.
Stoltze: Perhaps the best line of the day came from Councilman Jack Weiss, chair of the Public Safety Committee:
Councilman Jack Weiss: With apologies to Kobe Bryant, the most important employment decision in Los Angeles has now officially been made, (reporters laugh) and it's the appointment of Chief Bratton.
Stoltze: City Hall leaders clearly are elated with Bill Bratton. They regard him as a stabilizing force at a police department seeking to change after a long and troubled history.