According to the Los Angeles Police Department, “William J. Bratton was
appointed Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in October 2002. Chief Bratton oversees the
third largest police department in the United States, managing 9,300 sworn officers, 3,000 civilian employees, and an annual
budget of more than one billion dollars. A strong community policing advocate, he is directing a major
reengineering of the LAPD, decentralizing the bureaucracy, strengthening local commands, increasing responsiveness to community
concerns, and developing strategies to counter gang-related crimes and the threat of terrorism. During
his first three years as Chief in Los Angeles, the LAPD has driven Part I crime down 26.4 percent, including a 25.5 percent
reduction in homicide. The Department has also developed one of the most comprehensive and effective counter-terrorism
operations in the country.
The only person ever to serve as chief executive of both the LAPD and the NYPD,
Chief Bratton established an international reputation for reengineering police departments and fighting crime in the 1990s.
As Chief of the New York City Transit Police, Boston Police Commissioner, then New York City Police Commissioner, he
revitalized morale and cut crime in all three posts, achieving the largest crime declines in New York City’s history.
He led the development of COMPSTAT, the internationally acclaimed command accountability metric system that uses computer-mapping
technology and timely crime analysis to target emerging crime patterns and coordinate police response. From
1996 on, Chief Bratton worked in the private sector, where he formed his own private consulting company, The Bratton Group,
L.L.C., working on four continents, including extensive consulting in South America. He also consulted
with the Kroll Associates monitoring team overseeing the implementation of the Federal Consent Decree with the LAPD.
A U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, Chief Bratton began his policing career in 1970,
as a police officer with the Boston Police Department, rising to Superintendent of Police, the department’s highest
sworn rank, in just ten years. In the 1980s, Chief Bratton headed two other police agencies, the Massachusetts
Bay Transportation Authority Police and the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Commission Police.
Chief Bratton holds a Bachelor of Science
Degree in Law Enforcement from Boston State College/University of Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the
FBI National Executive Institute and was a Senior Executive Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
William J. Bratton is the co-author
of Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic and Scene of the
Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive.
According to the book description of Scene of the Crime: Photographs
from the LAPD Archive, “Los Angeles in the decades after the Depression was a smoldering powder keg of
vice, corruption, violence, and some of the most sensational crimes in American history. The Black Dahlia slaying, the Onion
Field murder, film star Thelma Todd's mysterious death, the killing of Kansas City gangsters "The Two Tonys"
by Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratiano: these are but a few of the cases that once riveted the nation's attention and
were captured in striking crime-scene and forensic photographs for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Long forgotten in a warehouse, these
recently discovered photographs from the LAPD archive form a powerful visual history of the underbelly of Los Angeles from
the 1930s to the 1960s. Although disquieting and often brutal, the images have an atmospheric, eerie beauty that belies their
documentary purpose. They are accompanied here by captions from police logs and original newspaper accounts, along with an
introduction by James Ellroy, the leading practitioner of the Los Angeles noir genre, and an essay by curator Tim B. Wride
discussing the archive's importance to social history and the history of photography. AUTHOR BIO: William J. Bratton is
the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and has also served as police commissioner for both the Boston and the
New York City police departments. James Ellroy's books include the international best-sellers The Black Dahlia, The Big
Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz, and American Tabloid. Tim B. Wride is associate curator of photography at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art.”
One reader of Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive
said, “Scene of crime photos like other professional images (medical, a racetrack photo-finish, IDs, speed cameras etc)
don't need to worry about creative input, they just need to give basic information, tell a story and that's it. The
133 case study photos in this handsomely designed and printed book certainly captured my interest and I wanted to know more.
At this point the first problem arises, all the captions are at the back of the
book, despite the fact that many of the photos are on pages with plenty of white space. At the back the photos are presented
as thumbnails but even here it gets confusing, the captions are in a separate text block to the thumbnails. The reality is
that all the captions could easily be with the relevant photos if the book had been designed a bit differently or if the captions
had to be in the back they should have been placed below the relevant thumbnails.
There might be a reason for this rather inadequate arrangement though because
(problem two) there are sixty-five photos, which when you turn to read the caption, you'll find the photo date, a one
or two word description and then 'Case information unavailable'. So, amazingly, for about half the photos in the book
there are no captions, no story to tell. To my mind this seems a fairly fundamental editorial failure especially considering
that the LAPD archives probably contain over a million case photos and surely 133 could have been selected that had their
case material available.
As to the photos, they are the usual selection of battered and bloodied bodies
in car wrecks, living rooms, bedrooms, eateries or just plain anywhere, ransom notes (bank robbers are not a very literate
bunch) mug shots and plenty showing the ordinary, mundane detritus of crime. Historically they cover the twenties to the seventies
and fortunately you'll find no celebrities here.
There seems to be a growing interest in publishing crime photos, I have a copy
of 'New York Noir' (ISBN 0847821722) a beautifully produced book of images from the archives of the New York Daily
News and the rather more crudely produced (and this probably gave the photos more impetus) 'Death Scenes' (ISBN 0922915296)
a very explicit collection of photos collected over the years by LA detective Jack Huddleston.
'Scene of the Crime' is an
intriguing book that could have been far more interesting if it had delivered all that it promised, so only three stars. BTW,
if you are sensitive about photos of dead bodies don't buy it.”