Sunday, April 8, 2007

L.A. Daily News Editorial - Five more years

Bratton's brashness irks the council - get over it!
WHEN William Bratton agreed to head the Los Angeles Police Department in 2002, many speculated about whether the celebrity cop would stay for his full first term. After leading the New York Police Department, the LAPD - barely one-fourth the size - might seem like small potatoes.
There was also some question about whether the New Englander's brash style would get him in trouble with the community or elected officials.
But here it is, 4 1/2 years later, and Bratton wants another five-year term. And he has no intention of changing his style. He has the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and he ought to get the full support of the city's elected leaders - even if he steps on their toes from time to time.
The reason for that is simple: Bratton is doing a good job. That's something few at City Hall can claim, and certainly not the City Council, which has done so little to face L.A.'s real issues.
While Bratton can boast that the streets are safer, the city keeps losing good jobs, traffic congestion gets worse, overdevelopment keeps on ruining the quality of life, and City Hall keeps spending more than it has, robbing the public of vital services.
Unlike the city's elected officials,
Bratton isn't trying to win a popularity contest. He's trying to make the LAPD a better police department, and provide security for nearly 4 million people, not tiptoe around the tender sensitivities of do-nothing politicians. But with the chance to confirm or deny Bratton a second term as chief, we challenge the council to stand up to him in public because he had the temerity to suggest last summer that some of its members "don't know what the hell they're talking about."
Instead of confronting the chief directly, the council went over his head to his bosses, whining in writing to the Police Commission to investigate his unseemly conduct. Well, it's taken nine months or so, but the commission has finally ruled that Bratton did nothing wrong, suggesting that "ideally" he should choose his words more carefully when insulting the council.
A better suggestion might be for the council to take lessons in straight talk rather than engaging in the kind of obfuscation that is the hallmark of its public pronouncements.
Well, now is members' chance to make a stand, but the odds favor their ducking a fight and signing off quickly on giving Bratton another five years to fix the LAPD. But in doing so, they would be doing what's right for the city, and that in itself would be progress.

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