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New LAPD headquarters to open October

September 8, 2009 7:36:07 PM PDT
In 54 days, Chief Bill Bratton steps aside as head of the Los Angeles Police Department. Tuesday, he took Eyewitness News on a tour of the new administration building, something that happened under his watch. At the same time, he angrily tried to shoot down any planning to use street officers as jail guards, and detention officers.

Chief Bratton led the tour of the new police administration building after announcing that once again crime is down in Los Angeles. This new state of the art building came in on time and under budget at a cost of $437 million.

The old Parker Center is 2 blocks away. No one who worked here believed the 1955 building could survive another even moderate earthquake, and it barely survived the last.

The new 10-story 500,000-square-foot structure is state of the art and ready for occupancy next month.

"I believe, and I don't think I will be corrected on this, I think it's the most expensive police facility ever built in the United States," says Bratton.

Bratton will end his successful years as chief on Oct. 31. He once again urged that his successor come from within the ranks.

"I'm making no qualms about my preference as to where the next chief should come from," he says.

Alongside the old Parker Center is the new detention center. It is operated by civilian detention officers. A city council decision not to approve 30 new detention officers led to contingency plans to use sworn officers.

Paul Weber, the president of the Police Protective League, was told directly by employee relations commander Jose Perez.

"The rationale is that the department's request for additional jailers was denied by the city of Los Angeles, and in order to properly staff it, they had to use sworn officers," says Weber.

Chief Bratton adamantly says there are no plans to retrain Los Angeles police officers as detention officers. "We are dealing with a situation that the city council created by only funding 31 detention officer positions," says Bratton.

"Although I believe we were looking for an excessive 80 so that we could open the new jail and we have a deficiency, certainly that may require us to not open all of the new jail," Bratton adds.

In other words, as far as the chief is concerned, parts of the new jail could stay closed, but he's not going to use trained police officers as jail guards at least not while he's in office, something that will end at the end of October.

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