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NCJ Number
Governing Volume: 17 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2003 Pages: 20,22,24,25
John Buntin
Date Published
December 2003
4 pages
This article describes the philosophy and success of the new Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and the challenges ahead.
An operation was designed to send a message to users that MacArthur Park (Los Angeles) is now a dangerous place to score drugs-not only when a major sting is in progress but on routine days as well. In a further effort to improve the park’s quality of life, police are targeting minors under the influence of drugs or alcohol and discouraging homeless people with shopping carts from taking up long-term residence. This campaign to reestablish order has already led to a sharp reduction in violent crime in the neighborhood. Former New York police chief William Bratton, credited with reducing crime in New York City, was recruited to take his success to Los Angeles. The problems in Los Angeles are that it is car-dependent over a huge area, it is some of the most dangerous territory in the world, and residents view police with suspicion. The philosophy used in the Los Angeles crackdown is “broken windows,” which states that seemingly minor signs of disorder, such as graffiti and vandalism, if unattended give rise to more serious offenses and greater disorder. The small size of the Los Angeles Police Department has had a dramatic effect on the organization’s culture. Understaffing in Los Angeles has over time created a police force whose officers worry more about personal survival than about community relations, and who go into every situation expecting the worst. Bratton, viewed as a cop’s cop, toured neighborhoods, attended community meetings, took on Los Angeles management, introduced crime mapping, and redeployed officers to areas of the city most affected by violent crime. Since Bratton took over, the homicide rate citywide has fallen by more than 20 percent and total crime by nearly 5 percent. The total number of gang members in Los Angeles is estimated at about 60,000. Of the 654 murders that occurred in Los Angeles in 2002, approximately half were gang-related. Gangs constitute the single greatest threat to Bratton’s doctrine that policing in itself can reduce the crime rate on a lasting basis.