American Dark Horse Candidate For Top Cop in London?

Home Secretary: 'Applicants Must Be British Citizens'

Speculation about Bratton took life after Prime Minister David Cameron suggested in Parliament on July 20 that non-British candidates be considered for the post. A favorite of Cameron, Bratton also has a good relationship with London mayor Boris Johnson. While the Home Office sets the national agenda for the Met, Johnson's administration has local authority over the agency.

"Why should not someone who has been a proven success overseas be able to help us turn around a force here at home?" the Telegraph quoted the prime minister as asking. Cameron also called the police system in Britain "too closed."

Bratton in September 2009 was named Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. Last November, he testified before the House of Commons committee with jurisdiction over law enforcement. "I'm very familiar with their issues because I track them very closely," Bratton said. "I've participated in any number of meetings over there, as well as meeting with their people over here. Those issues are quite clear."

The only problem with the Bratton scenario -- and it's a big one -- is the opposition of Home Secretary Theresa May, a Cameron appointee who will choose the next top cop after consulting with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

With a Friday deadline for applications, and public tensions furthering the need for leadership at the Metropolitan Police Home Secretary, May has cut short a vacation and returned to her office. According to persons familiar with the process, May appears determined to appoint a British citizen, very likely a police insider.

May has decreed that "applicants must be British citizens." This requirement is not a matter of British law.

"Within Whitehall, this is seen as a clear snub by Mrs. May to Mr. Cameron, and a neat piece of bureaucratic maneuvering," Bratton supporter Charles Moore wrote in Saturday's Telegraph. "There is not much the Prime Minister can do. As is often the case in British government, the establishment is trying to frustrate the wishes of Downing Street."

Members of Mrs. May's team say that she would not create upheaval by interrupting the centuries-old practice of English citizens serving in the police. Her decision effectively eliminates Bratton as a candidate as well as going against the grain of the thinking of other members of her government.

"The notion you can ship someone in from another country to run a police force in a different environment and culture is stupid," president of the Association of Chief Police Officers Sir Hugh Orde said, according to the London Telegraph.

There are a number of candidates within the English police hierarchy who are under consideration for the job, law enforcement sources said.

Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, the highest ranking woman at the Met and widely regarded as one of the smartest police executives in England, is considered by some former officials as unlikely to be the new commissioner due to her role in overseeing an anti-terrorist operation after the 2005 London transit bombing that resulted in the fatal shooting of an innocent man.

An outside candidate who could become the first woman to oversee the Met is Sara Thornton, the Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police. Senior National Coordinator for Terrorist Investigations Stuart Osborne is also seen as a possible strong candidate for the post.

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