The right time to leave

William J. Bratton is the outgoing police chief of Los Angeles.

There is never a good time to leave a job you love with people you like and respect. But there is a right time, as I told Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday. And for me, professionally and personally, this is the right time to leave my job as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Since my appointment by Mayor James Hahn to head this extraordinary department in 2002, I have had the opportunity to work with 13,000 extraordinary men and women and to travel with them on an exciting and rewarding journey -- through good times and bad -- meeting crises, challenges and opportunities with consistent integrity, optimism, confidence and resolve.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to Mayor Hahn. He had the political courage to change police chiefs because he thought it was in the best interest of the city and the LAPD, even though that decision may have cost him an election.

Similarly, I will always be grateful to Mayor Villaraigosa for reappointing me in 2007. The two mayors and four Police Commissions I reported to were all committed to achieving five goals for the LAPD, and today, the department can take justifiable pride and satisfaction in knowing that it has in large measure met these goals and expanded on them.


We committed to reduce crime, fear and disorder in every neighborhood, and we have done that.

We committed to keeping the city safe from terrorism, and we have done that while establishing nationally recognized best practices and initiatives.

We committed to fully embrace and implement the federal consent decree, and while it took longer than originally anticipated, we have done that.

We campaigned to grow the department by 1,000 officers, and with the unwavering leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and the support of the City Council and voters, we are doing that.

And perhaps most important, we committed to bias-free policing, to reducing racial tensions by ensuring that all residents of and visitors to our Los Angeles would be the beneficiaries of constitutional, compassionate and consistent policing in every neighborhood.


A Harvard University study and a Los Angeles Times poll both conclusively found recently that a significant majority of Angelenos feels that the department is a better, more sensitive organization than in the past. They feel it is their LAPD.

America has wrestled uncomfortably with issues of race for 400 years, and tensions have often been exacerbated by the actions of the police. I hope that a piece of my legacy here in Los Angeles is to have demonstrated that the police can be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem where race is concerned.


It will not be easy for me to leave, because while much has been done, much more remains to be accomplished. But having met the personal and professional challenges I set for myself, I feel that it is an appropriate time for new leadership to take over moving the department forward to meet the many challenges that lie ahead.

I am confident that the great leadership team that I have been privileged to work with these last seven years will remain committed to the goals they helped to establish and achieve. It is also my hope that the next chief will be chosen from within their ranks.

To the residents of Los Angeles, to the extraordinary men and women of the LAPD, to the mayors and police commissioners for whom I worked, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime, for the honor, the privilege and the enjoyment of working with you during a very special time in the history of the fabled LAPD and the City of Angels. Working together, we have all once again brightly polished the badge and image of the Los Angeles Police Department and the incredible city that it protects and serves so well.