Some Friendly Advice For The Chief
By Sean McConnor
Nov 1, 2002 - 10:47:00 PM
LOS ANGELES — Welcome to Los Angeles and the L.A.P.D., Chief Bratton.
LAPD official photograph
May I extend this opportunity to wish you well, even though I believe your tenure probably won't last more than two years maximum. You see, Chief, this is L.A., not New York or Boston. Things work differently out here.
First of all, you have a powerful city council in L.A. that considers its districts fiefdoms. And they consider the city collectively as their kingdom. Despite the vote to hire you and the broad smiles they displayed, be prepared for the pettiness and territorial demands that will be made upon you shortly. It goes with the territory here. You aren't in the East anymore, Chief.
Secondly, you might wise up and realize, as you do as a former cop, that dictating policy and behavior to police officers is not going to accomplish your goals. Cops in L.A. are civil servants. I don't know how it was done at One Police Plaza in Manhattan, New York, but here persuasion and personal example is the best course for you to influence your men and women in blue. Also, I detect some arrogance on your part. You might want to lighten up, Chief, otherwise your attitude will discredit your goals.
Another thing, after the Rodney King incident, the L.A.P.D. changed instantly. Officers seem to have taken a 180 degree turn. They no longer take the initiative like they once did. They only do what is expected of them and nothing more. They still communicate in the language of cops, but do so more carefully. They realize that with self-serving police administrators and politicians in control, their best course is to lie low. This type of mindset explains why crime is up and arrests are down. And why not, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
Remember what President Truman allegedly said about his successor in the Presidency, General Eisenhower? Ike would order people to do this and that and no one would do anything. To succeed in the Presidency, you have to persuade people that it is in their best interest to do something. The police chief in L.A. has to practice the same policy to succeed. Based upon your experience in the East, I am hedging my bets that you can do so.
Finally, here in L.A., remember you have more of a minority police force policing a minority population unlike the East where most of the cops were white. Minorities are usually people who have negative law enforcement experiences. You had better buy some kid gloves because no matter how much citizens tell you that they want crime reduced, macho guys won't go over in L.A..
Good luck, Chief. Enjoy your two years in Los Angeles even though you signed on for five years. Maybe you will learn new things for your next police job when you leave the City of the Angels.
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
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