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High-Profile Big-City Chiefs Depart In 2009

December 16, 2009  | 

Former LAPD Chief William Bratton will have more time for private events, after turning over the top-cop job to Charlie Beck. Photo via David Markland (

Several of the nation's best-known top cops left their big-city police chief positions in 2009 amid a year of budget turmoil, a spike in officer deaths, and shifting law enforcement priorities.

Next year, 10 of the nation's most populous cities will have new chiefs — Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa.

The number of departures isn't as unusual as the names of the chiefs leaving, a leading police union official tells POLICE Magazine.

"It's somewhat cyclical," said Jim Pasco, executive director with the national Fraternal Order of Police. "The real high-profile chiefs with a track record of accomplishment seem to be doing so on their own volition and at an appropriate time for them."

Pasco estimated that most big-city chiefs serve for just over two years before leaving.

Chiefs entering jobs in Detroit and Oakland are taking on challenging turnaround assignments in higher crime areas. They'll have a lower bar for success, yet also will be under closer scrutiny.

"Generally, in those cities there's a high level of frustration," Pasco added. "Their [city leaders and community members] expectations are going to be high and they're going to be impatient."

To help officers follow the changes at the top, POLICE Magazine has prepared a handy guide to all the moves. View them on the next two pages.

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