By Max Wynn
UCLA Luskin Student Writer
Former Los Angeles police chief William J. Bratton kicked off the new academic year’s UCLA Luskin Lecture Series last week with a speech that highlighted the ability of the police to be a force for positive social change.
Community members and city leaders joined UCLA students, alumni and faculty at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown Los Angeles to hear the former Chief speak. Bratton’s lecture linked the experiences of his 40 years of police work, during which he has also served as Police Commissioner in Boston and New York, with the evolution of the profession as a whole.
In no small part thanks to Chief Bratton’s contributions, policing has moved from responding to crimes that were committed, to preventing those crimes and improving the communities in which they occur. Crime prevention, and the importance of the relationship between the police and the community, were key elements of both his speech and the policies he implemented during his time as Los Angeles’ Chief of Police, which lasted from 2002-09.
LAPD Bureau Chief and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs board member Gerald Chaleff said, during his introductory remarks, that these policies have “made the Los Angeles police department into a place where everyone else in law enforcement now comes to learn and be trained.”
Chief Bratton’s policies reduced crime in Los Angeles and repaired the reputation of the police department, but he believes that quality policing can have an even greater impact.
“If we the police get it right in delivering public safety in a way that we build trust, in a way that improves race relationships, in a way that improves our efficiency,” he said, “then we are effectively a force multiplier for expanding on all the promises of democracy that go back to the creation of our country, and our constitution, and our Declaration of Independence.”
Throughout his speech Chief Bratton repeated his mantra “cops count, police matter”, and as his speech drew to a close he built upon this phrase, adding that “we can matter so much more if we do it the right way.”
Following the lecture Frank D. Gilliam Jr., Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, joined Chief Bratton on stage. The two had a conversation about a wide range of topics, among them terrorism, gun control, trends in crime statistics, and how to best enforce stop-and-frisk policies.
The Luskin Lecture Series continues with “A Conversation with Marian Wright Edelman.” The civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund will be speaking on December 4th at the California African American Museum. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.
The Luskin Lecture Series is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here.