Bill Bratton sworn in as LA's 54th chief of police

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Pinned on Bill Bratton is not only the badge of the LA's 54th chief of police, but also the hopes of millions, anxious for a department-wide turnaround: one that will produce Hurculean repercussions across the city. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports.

"Chief will you raise you right hand. I William Bratton do solemnly swear."

"I William Bratton do solemnly swear..."

Mayor Jim Hahn, who selected Bratton, issued the oath during a ceremony that lasted about an hour and a half.

Many high-ranking politicians from L-A and throughout the state attended, including Governor Davis.

It was the 55-year-old Bratton's first chance to address rank and file LAPD officers as their leader.

William Bratton: "I am going to talk very bluntly to you. The citizens of this city need you back in those streets. They don't need you smiling and waving. They need you out of those cars, on those corners, in those parks, taking back those streets that unfortunately so many have been lost."

The New York City and Boston's former Police Commissioner said that with just nine-thousand officers the department must work with the community to reduce crime.

Bratton has promised to reorganize the department by decentralizing authority and demanding more accountability from division captains.

He is a nationally recognized law enforcement executive who Hahn said is the right man at the right time.

Jim Hahn: "Chief Bratton best embodies the qualities to motivate the rank and file, rebuild the bond of trust between the department and community and to move Los Angeles again to be a safer community."

Officers who attended the ceremony seemed to have an extra bounce in their step.

Officer Trina Franklin: "Everyone is pretty optimistic right now, including me."

Foothill Division Officer Trina Franklin is a seven-year veteran of the force.

Here's what she says is the chief's first task.
Officer Franklin: "I think definitely morale needs to go up. If morale doesn't go up, crime cant go down and we cant work with the community if those things don't happen first."

Representatives from Community-Police Advisory Boards..so called C-PABS..from throughout the city also attended.

Beverly Collins of the 77th Division C-PAB in South Central said she'll wait and see before pronouncing Bratton the savior of the LAPD.

Beverly Collins: "Basically, we have a lot of gang problems and graffiti problems and we're waiting for him as a community to help us solve some of these problems and to step in and work with us."

Bill Murray is a member of the C-PAB in the Hollenbeck Division in Boyle Heights..where gang violence is a top concern.

Bill Murray: "There are community members here who only need to be asked and they'll show up. But they need to know that they will be welcomed and I believe that one of the things Chief Bratton is saying today is, he perceives that need. He's admitting that need and he's opening his arms up."

Bratton also said he's opening up his arms to members of the police department.

Once again addressing officers directly, Bratton said "expect to see me on the streets."

Bratton: "You're going to see a lot of me - nights, days, weekends. But when you see me, I will not be there checking up on you. I'll be there shoulder to shoulder with you learning from you because I have a lot to learn. But I think I have a lot to give."

Bratton's appointed term is five years. He can serve a second if the Police Commission so desires.

For KPCC News, I'm Frank Stoltze in Los Angeles.