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LAPD Chief Beck accepts second term

Tenure will extend another five years

City News Service | 8/14/2014, midnight
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck was re-appointed Tuesday by the city Police Commission and will serve another five ...
Chief Charlie Beck

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck was re-appointed Tuesday by the city Police Commission and will serve another five years as head of the department.

The commission voted 4-1 to extend Beck’s tenure, with the panel’s longest-serving member, Robert Saltzman, casting the dissenting vote. Saltzman is the only member of the panel who pre-dates Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Saltzman said he believes the department needs fresh leadership, saying Beck was not as open about sharing information with the commission as did his predecessor, William Bratton.

Other commissioners conceded that there were areas in which Beck could improve, but commission President Steve Soboroff said the “positives far outweigh the negatives.”

Some commission members noted they were concerned about the fairness of discipline meted out by the chief and echoed some of Saltzman’s concerns about transparency.

But those concerns were not enough for them to reject his bid for another term.

Beck said he was “honored” to receive the commission’s support during what he called the “most difficult reappointment process in recent memory.”

He conceded that the reappointment process “was much more difficult that I anticipated.”

He said the criticisms raised by Saltzman and some other commissioners were not lost on him, saying he “learned lessons” during the process. The chief said he would work to ensure that “we honor transparency not only in speech but in action.”

Councilman Tom LaBonge, speaking to the commission before the vote, told the panel he strongly supported Beck, saying the chief has seen the department through “ups and downs.” LaBonge said he was confident Beck would “move the department forward.”

Beck has been on the defensive in recent weeks, with questions being raised about the department’s handling of crime statistics and about the chief’s role in the department’s purchase of a horse from his daughter.

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that an estimated 1,200 violent crimes—mostly aggravated assaults—that occurred in 2013 may have been downgraded to minor offenses in crime statistics reported to the federal government.

LAPD officials said the misclassifications were inadvertent and the result of the “complex nature” of fitting crimes defined under state law into the “FBI’s coding system.” The department has long recognized the problem and has worked to reduce the error rate in classifying aggravated assaults, officials said.

The skewed statistics do not change the department’s contention that crime has dropped consistently in the past 11 years, LAPD officials said, while the miscoding of the crimes did not affect how they were ultimately prosecuted.

In the months after putting in his request for a second term, Beck also found himself targeted in allegations—some raised by a political blogger—suggesting he may have intervened in a disciplinary case involving an officer who was accused of having improper relationships with the chief’s daughter, LAPD Officer Brandi Pearson.

Another allegation raised questions about the department’s $6,000 purchase of a horse that Pearson owned for use by the department’s equestrian unit. Officials said the sum was substantially below the going rate.

Department officials have denied any wrongdoing in either case, saying Beck recuses himself from any involvement in matters involving his daughter or son, who is also an LAPD officer.

Beck later acknowledged signing correspondence related to the department’s purchase of the horse, saying his previous comments that he had no involvement were “mistaken.”

Beck submitted a letter to the Police Commission in May officially seeking a second term. He was required to submit an application to the commission 180 days before the end of his first term, which is Nov. 17.

Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, congratulated Beck on his reappointment.

“We pledge to work with him to restore officer morale and reform the department’s arcane disciplinary system,” he said. “We also would like to see him become an advocate for competitive, market-rate pay and benefits for the men and women of the LAPD he is sworn to lead.”

The union and the city are locked in a labor dispute, focused primarily on salaries.