William J. Bratton on Wednesday abruptly announced his plan to resign as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department to take over as head of a private security firm.

Bratton, who has dramatically reshaped the LAPD and pushed down crime rates since taking over in 2002, is expected to step down at the end of October.

Standing beside Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and John Mack, the head of the civilian board that oversees the LAPD, at a packed City Hall press conference, Bratton claimed he had accomplished what he set out to do as chief, but said it was difficult nonetheless to move on.

Bratton's decision took the city's political and police leadership by surprise. As Bratton flew back to Los Angeles on Tuesday night after finalizing the terms of his new job in New York, aides to his boss, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said the mayor knew nothing of the planned departure.

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