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LAPD Chief Bratton Kicks Off Farewell Tour With Pair of Downtown Stops

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009, at 08:43AM
IMGP2726_2 Ed Fuentes

Chief William Bratton at Parker Center Auditorium for a public and LAPD brass farewell.

There may still be a month before William Bratton officially departs Los Angeles for the private sector, but the Police Chief's farewell tour is well underway.

On Tuesday afternoon, back-to-back stops at Inner City Arts and Parker Center gave Bratton a chance to speak about what he views as two of his primary accomplishments in seven years leading LAPD: making the streets of Skid Row safer and turning the police force into a community partner.

The Central City East Association hosted Bratton and his wife, lawyer Rikki Klieman, at Inner City Arts' Rosenthal Theater for a late afternoon reception where children, business owners and non-profits showered Bratton with appreciation.

On the third anniversary of the Safer Cities Initiative's Skid Row launch, Bratton said that it was the work of his officers and community partners, not the program, that had improved conditions.

The Chief made clear that he wants to see the program continue. "I accept the thank-you's, but the work is not done," said Bratton, warning the room that City Council is proposing cuts that would prevent the hiring of new officers.

Bratton has been a politically active Chief, and never one afraid to speak his mind. "I really do worry, and the City Council of this city sees it very differently and want to undo all that work from the last 7 years," he said.

In 2007, the City raised trash fees to pay for new officers, but Bratton worries that the department won't see the gains it was promised. "I'm sorry I won't be here to here to go up and raise hell with them, because all the gains from the last seven years will dissipate," he said. "You do not de-police in times of economic crisis."

Shifting moods, Bratton recalled working with New York's Times Square Business Improvement District in the 1980s. The problems there did not match what he saw in Skid Row, he said, before crediting Central City East Association as a partner and problem-solver. "The [Safer Cities] concept works because it's all about partnerships. Community policing works because it's about partnerships," said the Chief.

An hour later, during a reception held at Parker Center, Bratton thanked and praised the men and women of LAPD. He urged them to continue the work that's been started to improve community and race relationships. The evening ended with various L.A. community leaders thanking the Chief for his work.

The Chief told the audience that the farewell would be his last public forum in the Parker Center auditorium, and that he hoped his next would be held in the auditorium of the new Police Administration Building to welcome a new Chief of Police.

Bratton will briefly occupy the Chief's office in the new building, but will barely have moved in when he signs the paperwork to make October 31 at 5pm his "end of tour."


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