"When you love what you do, when you love the people you get to do it with, when you love the way you do it, there is never a good time to leave, but there is a right time. And for me, personally and professionally, at this time it is the right time," Bratton said during an afternoon news conference.
The announcement took many by surprise, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been a close ally of the chief. There was no indication from Bratton that he intended to leave the department.
Bratton came to L.A. when the department was in a time of turmoil with the aftermath of the riots and the Rampart scandal. Bratton promised to clean up the agency and put the shine back on the badge.
By most accounts, he has succeeded. He presided over the end of a consent decree and federal control of the department.
"Because of him Los Angeles is the safest it's been in more than a half a century. He's leaving Los Angeles a stronger city, a more united city, a safer city," said Mayor Villaraigosa.
Bratton has been widely praised for bringing down crime rates in Los Angeles to 1950s levels. The number of police officers on the street is at near record levels. One of Bratton's promises was adding 1,000 new officers to the LAPD, which will be met this year.
The chief has reshaped the LAPD and bolstered the reputation of the agency. He added computer tracking and predicting where crime was going to be the highest in Los Angeles.
Bratton, who took over the LAPD in 2002, leaves with more than three years remaining in his second term. The chief previously headed police departments in Boston and New York City.
Bratton put his Los Feliz home up for sale last month, but had denied rumors at the time that he was leaving Los Angeles. There had been reports he was reconsidering a job with the Scotland Yard.
Bratton won't name a potential successor, but says he or she should come from within the department.
"I will take advantage of being in front of the mic to advocate for the team that I have worked with for the last number of years. I have an extraordinary leadership team," said Bratton.
The police commission will narrow the list of applicants down to six. The mayor will pick from the final three.
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley released the following statement:
"Chief Bratton's decision to resign is a surprise. Both Los Angeles and our criminal justice system are better off since he came to the city. I wish him well in his new endeavor."
Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, released the following statement:
"Chief Bratton came to Los Angeles with the determination to drive down crime and restore the Department's good relationship with the Los Angeles community. Under his leadership, the men and women of the LAPD have done just that, demonstrated by the current crime rates, which are lower than any time since the 1950s, and the Department's high approval ratings in recent public polls.
"Coming from New York, Chief Bratton was a quick study, surrounding himself with knowledgeable people who helped him learn Los Angeles' unique challenges. He brought COMPSTAT to Los Angeles, a technology to track and map crime patterns. Under his leadership, LAPD has become a recognized expert in innovative terrorism prevention and preparedness initiatives, developing partnerships and cooperative efforts with other law enforcement agencies. Most recently, Chief Bratton was instrumental in ending the federal oversight imposed under the Consent Decree.
"His outspoken demeanor and unmistakable Boston accent made him an instantly recognizable figure in the community and the media, and he successfully used his visibility to strengthen partnerships between LAPD and the residents it serves.
"Chief Bratton has served our City with honor and professionalism, and his shoes will be tough to fill. While we may not have agreed with the Chief on all of the issues, the LAPPL appreciates the working relationship it shared with Bratton. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
LAPD Chief Bratton's letter to department employees:
"Earlier today, Wednesday, August 5th, I met with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to inform him of my intention to resign my position as Chief of our great Department effective October 31st, so that I may pursue new professionalization of policing opportunities in the private sector. There is never a good time to leave a job and a Department that you love and enjoy, but there is always a right time. That time has now come for me professionally and personally to seek new career challenges.
"Since my appointment as Chief of this extraordinary Department in October 2002, by then Mayor James Hahn, we have travelled together on an exciting and successful journey - through good times and bad - meeting crises, challenge and opportunity with consistent optimism, confidence and resolve.
"You and I committed to five overarching goals in 2002, and as of today, we can all take justifiable pride and satisfaction in knowing that we have in large measure met and continued to expand their impact in our ultimate purpose for being: to protect and to serve all the residents of this great City. We committed to reduce crime, fear, and disorder, and we have done that. We committed to keeping the City safer from terrorism and we have done that while establishing national best practices and initiatives. We committed to full implementation of the Federal Consent Decree, and while it took longer than originally anticipated, we have done that. We campaigned to grow the Department by 1,000 officers and with the focused leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa and the support of the City Council and voters we are doing that. We also committed to Bias-Free Policing, to ensure that all the residents and visitors to our City of Angels would be the benefactors of constitutional, compassionate, consistent policing in every neighborhood. The recent Harvard Study and Los Angeles Times poll have conclusively shown that a significant majority of all Angelinos feel that you are succeeding. It will not be easy to leave because, while much has been done, there is still much more that can be done. But having met the personal and professional challenges that I set for myself, I feel that this is an appropriate time for new leadership to move the Department forward and meet the challenges that lie ahead.
"Thank you for the honor, the privilege and the enjoyment of working with you, and for the opportunity to tell your story during these past seven years. I hope that each of you in some way, no matter what your position, felt that you were part of what I believe will be a very special time in the history of the Department ? our Department ? a Department that is without question second to none. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to be your chief."