Nothing against the interesting list the Los Angeles Times published today, of the Los Angeles Police Department's top brass who want to replace the departing Bill Bratton. But the chances that City Hall would somehow have a permanent new chief in place the day Bratton leaves for New York, which is on Halloween, were always viewed as less than zero by folks who have seen this process before.
Why on earth does Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa want to rush the process, instead of following a calm plan to replace Bratton that doesn't cut corners? It's not like the LAPD is a teetering mess that needs a head or the whole thing will blow.
Something felt wrong from the day Villaraigosa first announced he would push hard for a permanent new chief by October 31.
Now we hear, once again, what the hallway whispering at Parker Center has been repeating since Bratton announced his sudden move: No, Antonio. It's gonna take a lot longer and we will indeed need an interim chief who is not angling for the job. Here's why:
First of all, Los Angeles city government has a complex and convoluted personnel process — even to pick a chief from inside, as some prefer. This is a highly, highly inefficient city government that has grown much worse in the past four years. (Nothing against the personnel director downtown, who has the worst job anywhere.)
But more important, the mayors of L.A. and the Los Angeles City Council have horribly screwed up their selection of chief before, even when they thought they were being careful. Rushing, as various Police Commissioners have already mentioned, serves no good purpose — so why is Antonio rushing?
I wrote the first in-depth look at the 1990s disaster that was LAPD Chief Willie Williams, for the now-defunct New Times Los Angeles alt weekly. Our November of 1996 cover was headlined: “Officer Down,” and it recounted how L.A. politicians were duped by Philadelphia politicians into hiring away Williams, an inept, silly and unqualified cop the Pennsylvanians badly wanted to pawn off.
Here's the list, according to the Times, of insiders jockeying for Bratton's job:
Kirk Albanese, 52, head of South Bureau;
Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, 56;
Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz, 54;
Terry Hara, 51, head of West Bureau;
Sandy Jo MacArthur, 52, head of
Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, 49;
Michel Moore, 49, head of operations,
Assistant Chief Sharon Papa, 51;
Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, 54;
Mark Perez, 52, heads of
Professional Standards Bureau;
Richard Rupoli, 60, commanding
officer, Special Operations.