Commissioner Ian Blair became a lightening rod for that criticism which stemmed from a rise in youth violence and knifings, including 11 murders of teen-agers through the spring, where in April, two youths were knifed in on day. Behind the scenes, it seems Blair's own staff may have helped set the stage for his ouster, well informed sources close to Blair tell ABC News. One key staffer, his second in command, has an inside track, sources say, at succeeding his boss at least for the year and a half before scheduled national elections.
As Blair, who ran a relatively unpolitized department, became the symbol of a mayor's will to take control of the agency, Bratton, who is well skilled at politics, became a tool to keep the battle before the public eye, well informed sources say. Now his name and reputation is being tossed back and forth between Labor and Conservative politicians.
Bratton happened to arrive in London and meet the city's mayor about a week before the ouster of embattled Met Police Chief Ian Blair; a coincidence fed upon by the British press, whose appetite appears to be fueled by leaks from the mayor's staff. The national tabloid The Sun said in Bratton was "in the frame" for the top cop job at the Met:
"They met thanks to The Sun -- who brought Mr. Bratton to the UK to attend our summit on Broken Britain," the paper touted. "At the summit Mr. Bratton set out his vision for cleaning up the gun and knife crime plaguing our streets. He slashed crime while New York police chief and then tackled L.A.'s gang culture."
But it is hardly Bratton's first visit to England. He and other US police executives haves worked for several years now -- at least six -- to more fully engage British law enforcement in PERF.
Bratton happened to arrive in London this trip on the eve of the ouster of embattled Met Police Chief Ian Blair, who was soon after pushed from power by London mayor Boris Johnson.
During his visit, Bratton met with England's Home Secretary, whose office bears considerable responsibility in the war on terror, and which in fact also exerts considerable control over The Met, where, as with many British police agencies, policy is then set by a Board of Commissioners. He also met with Johnson -- in the company of Blair on at least one occasion. And Johnson's staff has done little to dissuade reporters of rumors that Bratton is under consideration as a future commissioner. Johnson and his deputies also exert their own influence over the selection process.
On Friday, London papers began mentioning their meeting, and soon after in the tightly-knit community of local, regional and federal law enforcement officials in the U.S., rumors of the interest in Bratton for the job and speculation on the interest by Bratton in the job had made their way through the grapevine, where they were met sometimes with informed skepticism, and sometimes by equally informed suggestions, that there may be some reciprocal interest -- a mating dance, according to multiple ABC sources.
The London Telegraph interviewed Bratton and he gave them this characteristically short-of-a-no answer: "As to speculation about my being possibly considered for the Met position let me offer the following Abraham Lincoln quote: 'I am flattered to be considered for a position that I have not been offered.'"