Bratton in LA

Since I’m a known Bill Bratton fan and an LA resident, I get a steady trickle of phone calls from out of town asking some variation of “How’s he doing?” The honest answer is that I don’t know. But John Buntin’s profile in Governing suggests that the right answer might be “About as well as could be expected, under the circumstances.” LA is chronically, scandalously underpoliced, and without some additional bodies there are fairly tight limits on what even a Bratton can accomplish.

Buntin’s story accepts as fact the account of the gang problem offered by career LAPD commanders. I’m not sure that’s justified. If there are 60,000 “gang members” in LA compared to 1200 in Boston (with about a seventh the population of LA, suggesting a sixfold difference in rates) my guess is that someone has defined “gang member” too broadly, and that concentrating on a much smaller hard core might pay dividends.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: