He has been police commissioner of New York where he helped drive crime to historic lows, re-inventing the management of American policing in the process. Now he is a powerhouse chief revamping L.A.'s once troubled force, and according to sources close to the process, as well as London newspapers, he may be on a short list for head of Britain's fabled Scotland Yard, the London based force with national anti-terror responsibility.
Bill Bratton, without any doubt, is a powerhouse of police management. He picks sharp aides, motivates them well, drives his deputies to invention and perfection, while at the same time facing down pressure groups and swaying politicians to his cause. And many of the key figures around him today have served time in England's law enforcement community -- or even come from there.
In short: he slings police theory like Wyatt Earp wielded a gun, writes Op-Eds and academic papers on crime and terrorism, and is a behind-the-scenes powerhouse in the selection process for American police chiefs, who also happens to be a transatlantic darling of the conservatives in London.
No wonder that in the days following a Police Executive Research Forum trip to London a week ago, for a group of American law enforcement officials who joined a panel of about 40 officers for a discussion of what could be done to curb some of London's crime problems, rumors began to spread in the British press that Bratton could be a candidate for the job of running the Metropolitan Police. Those days coincided with the ouster Wednesday of Sir Ian Blair -- the Commissioner of The Met -- by London's Mayor.
Popularly known as Scotland Yard, The Met is a 50,000 plus police organization with a budget of about six billion dollars, and the patina that only the brand name Scotland Yard could offer to an already stellar career. It is also an agency that has come under siege by politicians in recent months.
In the Saturday, Oct. 4th edition of the flashy tabloid The Sun, the paper takes credit for introducing Bratton to London's mayor and says he is "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."
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, as well as 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.
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.