Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Bratton Says LAPD Must Stem Tide of Violence in South Central Los Angeles
By ALLISON LOMAS, Staf Writer
Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said yesterday the department must do more with its limited resources to take back the streets from gangs and gun-toting criminals after last weekend’s 13 homicides and five officer-involved shootings.
Arrests are down throughout the city, but gang violence is increasing and the amount of guns and people’s resolve to use them in this city “is nothing short of phenomenal,” the chief said, concluding the best way to deal with these problems is by creating a civil, but assertive police force that is on the street and responsive to suspicious and overtly criminal behavior.
Speaking to reporters, Bratton said fighting crime has slipped as a priority for the department in the past, and called on officers to get out of their police cars and to do what they are paid to do.
Bratton appeared to point to the officer-involved shootings that occurred over the weekend as positive illustrations of the pro-active policing that he is attempting to implement. Each of these instances was triggered by police officers reacting to suspicious or criminal behavior.
The chief said he will be personally informed of every homicide that occurs in the city and intends to visit the scenes of such incidents when possible. He said he and his wife stopped at the scene of a killing while on the way to lunch on Sunday.
The chief said that he goes to the homicide scenes “to be angry.”
“The idea that three or four characters feel they can run down the streets of Los Angeles and kill another human being, and then stand over him and put another bullet into his head to make sure they did kill him — I want to get angry about that,” Bratton said.
Six of the 13 killings between Friday and Monday took place in the South Central portion of Los Angeles. The chief acknowledged that violent crime has increased by eight percent in the city’s South Bureau area and by half a percent in the Central Bureau since last year.
The chief said that he intends to use existing resources including federal, state, county and local entities to suppress the tide of violence in the area, and it may be several months before citizens see a change. He has not officially requested additional police officers.
The chief said it is necessary to assure the most troubled communities in Los Angeles that it is not the department’s intention “to go into that area like an invading army.”
Currently Deputy Chief Willie Pannell, who heads the troubled South Bureau, is making contacts with community leaders so that officers will be welcomed into the neighborhoods, rather than feared, Bratton said.
He expects officers to enforce the law, not break it, he said. Racial or ethnic profiling or brutality will not be tolerated the chief said, warning that “If you do, I’m gonna hang you.”
The new police chief caused a stir at City Hall last Friday at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce when he declared that at least 12,000 officersóa 30 percent increase in the 9,000-member forceówould be needed to keep the city safe. He reiterated yesterday that this number was not based on any studies and was not intended to be a demand on the cash-strapped city.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company