L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa selected Assistant Chief Charlie Beck, from several very qualified candidates, to be the next Chief of Police with LAPD. Also Under consideration were Michael Moore and Jim McDonald.
Mayor picks deputy chief, department insider to become LA police chief
THOMAS WATKINS Associated Press Writer
6:54 PM CST, November 3, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A respected Los Angeles Police Department veteran credited with cleaning up a devastating corruption scandal was picked by the mayor Tuesday to become the next police chief of the nation's second-largest city.
The selection of Deputy Chief Charlie Beck was widely endorsed by city officials, rank-and-file officers and activists, who cited his style of reform-minded management and community policing.
"He spent most of his career in some of the most challenging areas of our city, and in each and every case the communities were better off," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
Beck, 56, went to work for the LAPD as a reserve officer in 1975 and rose through the ranks to become deputy chief three years ago. He currently is in charge of detectives, where he has overseen high-profile cases including the investigation of Michael Jackson's death.
He would become the city's 55th police chief if the City Council approves the mayor's selection, as expected.
Beck stands to inherit a department that underwent a dramatic turnaround under William Bratton, who unexpectedly left the post after seven years for a private sector job in New York.
Bratton presided over plunging crime rates, increased diversity among officers and heightened focus on counterterrorism. The department also enacted court-ordered reforms and saw the end of eight years of federal oversight brought about by abuse allegations.
In addition, Bratton helped heal relations with the black community after from decades of perceived police racism.
Beck, who was promoted by Bratton multiple times, said he aimed to make the reforms a lasting part of the department.
"It is so important that we drive those changes that we've made, that we take them and we put them into the DNA of this organization so that never again will it depend solely on the leader to make the difference," he said.
Beck acknowledged, however, that he faces challenging times, an apparent reference to the $400 million budget shortfall confronting the city. Beck must find a way to maintain morale as officers face a contract that offers no pay raises and less overtime.
The City Council has already implemented a two-month hiring freeze, and it's unclear how long its commitment will last to maintain the current number of LAPD officers.
In 2003, Bratton appointed Beck captain of the Rampart Division, which was struggling with fallout from a 1999 corruption scandal in its anti-gang unit.
"He stressed more involvement with the community so (police) were not seen as an occupying force," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law who wrote a report about the scandal.
"From the perspective of having an internal candidate who has shown a desire for reform, he's an excellent choice," Chemerinsky said.
Although the Police Department made great strides under Bratton, further reforms are needed, Chemerinsky said, including reduced racial profiling and tracking disciplinary actions against officers.
Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber called Beck a consummate professional who is well-suited for the job of chief.
Beck comes from a law enforcement family. His father, George Beck, is a retired deputy chief. His daughter, Brandi Scimone, is a patrol officer in the Hollywood area; his son, Martin, is in the Police Academy; and his wife, Cindy Beck, is a retired sheriff's deputy.
"When you cut me, it bleeds blue," he said.
Beck's chief concern, stability
APPEARANCE: Nominee says goal is to `continue the advancements' made by the LAPD
By Tony Castro, Staff Writer L.A. Daily News
Deputy Chief Michael Moore laughs after Chief Charlie Beck told the crowd that the two were going to drive around the Valley after the meeting so that Moore could show him where all the police stations are at. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced new police chief Charlie Beck to San Fernando Valley residents at City Hall in Van Nuys, CA 11-3-2009.
MEET THE CHIEF
Chief Beck has set up a website where he is soliciting questions and ideas from the public.
VAN NUYS - Los Angeles police chief nominee Charlie Beck vowed to residents of the San Fernando Valley Wednesday night that he will continue the style of collaborative law enforcement that has dramatically reduced crime in the area.
"I promise that we will not only continue the advancements that have been made not only in the Valley but throughout the city, but we will build on those advances," Beck told a packed Van Nuys City Hall.
"There is much left to do."
Beck's town hall appearance was the second in as many days as he and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa campaign to sell his appointment to the public, leading to a City Council confirmation vote by Nov. 17.
Beck and Villaraigosa, who named the 56-year-old deputy chief on Tuesday to succeed William Bratton, got a warm, celebration-like reception from a crowd of several hundred, many of them snapping photographs of themselves with the likely next chief.
As they walked together, it seemed to some in the crowd to symbolize the start of a political marriage.
As the chief and the mayor walked through the throng, longtime Sherman Oaks residents Donald Fetherolf cracked: "They're walking down the aisle. The question is: Which one's the groom and which one's the bride?"
Smiling broadly and shaking hands with many well-wishers, Beck received numerous compliments about his family - many of whom have law enforcement backgrounds and were seen on news reports attending the announcement
ceremonies at Getty House.
"I'm overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and affection, but I realize that that's not for me," Beck said. "That's for the Los Angeles Police Department because (it's) your police department.
"The Los Angeles Department has progressed and has supported the Valley and has become a true partner, and that's why I get the outpouring of support and affection and not because Charlie Beck is so special."
Among those who attended the town hall were Deputy Chief Michel Moore, the Valley's top law enforcement official, who was one of two other finalists for the job.
Amid a thunderous ovation when Moore was introduced, the moment offered perhaps the evening's most emotional moment as he and Beck embraced.
"Mike Moore could easily do the job that I've been tasked to do," Beck said. "He will continue to be a huge part of the Los Angeles Police Department."
Moore was also lauded publicly by the mayor and other officials who spoke - Councilmen Greig Smith, Tony Cardenas, Richard Alarc n and Dennis Zine and Police Commission member Alan Skobin.
After the event, Moore planned to bring Beck - who has little experience serving the Valley in his LAPD career - around to several Valley stations to meet officers.
In answering questions from residents, Beck said that his administration will continue to look to reduce crime and retain vigilance against terrorism and gang violence.
On gang crime, Beck said he embraces a multitiered solution, including keeping kids out of gangs, intervention programs for those at-risk or in gangs, suppression and re-entry programs aimed at young people getting out of prison.
"I'll tell you what: If we don't do re-entry programs, I know 400 social entities that will - and they are the gangs of the city of Los Angeles," Beck said.
"My philosophy of policing is to solve problems because by solving problems, you're able to go on to the next problem rather than constantly treat symptoms."
Skobin, who represents the Valley on the Police Commission, said the response to Beck's appointment in the past day has been overwhelmingly positive.
"It's been 100 percent in support," he said.
That was reflected in the diverse crowd that attended the town hall.
"Bratton wanted them to name someone from within the department, and I'm glad they did," said Barbara Baldwin of Chatsworth. "Beck is someone I have a lot of confidence in, someone who I think can walk in the same footprints as Bratton."
Aurora Arreola, principal of Vinedale Elementary School in Sun Valley, said she came to the town hall because of concerns for the future well-being of her students.
"I'd like to know what, as chief, he will do to help keep our school children safe," she said.
John McRae of Valley Village said he came to the town hall to wish the new chief well and that he knows Beck through his work with the East Valley PALS.
"I have every confidence in the world that he will be a great chief," McRae said.
The Van Nuys town hall was Beck's second community meeting. He attended a town hall in South Los Angeles on Tuesday held just hours after the announcement of his appointment.
Today, Beck will appear at a town hall at 6 p.m. at the El Sereno Senior Center, 4818 Klamath Place, Los Angeles.
The next step for Beck is a hearing before the City Council's Public Safety Committee scheduled for Monday.
Councilman Smith, who chairs the panel, said he talked with Beck for more than an hour Wednesday morning to brief him on the issues to expect.
"A lot of the things the council is concerned with are new to him," Smith said.
"Issues like the number of (Los Angeles International) airport cops, how the department will deal with community policing and whether to keep the COMPSTAT model."
Smith said he also told Beck to be prepared to deal with questions such as increasing use of civilians to take over some functions to free up officers.
"These things are all issues he never dealt with and he has to be prepared to look at how the LAPD will be forced to adapt to our budget problems and the impact it will have on the department," Smith said.
Staff Writer Rick Orlov contributed to this report.
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