L.A.â€™s New Top Cop: Charlie Beck
Special to the Sentinel by Jasmyne A. Cannick
Early Tuesday morning the news leaked that Deputy Chief Charlie Beck had been anointed by Mayor Antonio Villaragosa as L.A.â€™s new top cop.Â Beck, a 32-year veteran of the department replaces recently departed Police Chief William J. Bratton, who suddenly announced his resignation after serving seven years as the head of one of Americaâ€™s most notorious police departments.Â Beck will be the departmentâ€™s 55th Police Chief.
It was wide speculated and rumored that Beck, 56, would replace Bratton.Â Beck, was one of three finalists that the Mayor met with over the past weekend after the Los Angeles Police Commission narrowed a group of 13 candidates to three.Â The other two candidates the Mayor considered for the position included Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Deputy Chief Michel Moore.
Beckâ€™s history in the department includes a quick ascension into its commanding ranks where he is credited with turning around the LAPDâ€™s scandal ridden Rampart Division.Â He then later headed up the departmentâ€™s South L.A. bureau increasing the departmentâ€™s effectiveness and relationship with the community.
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Born in Long Beach, California, Beck attended California State University at Long Beach. His father, also a Los Angeles Police officer retired in 1980 at the rank of Deputy Chief.Â His son will graduate from the LAPD police Academy on Dec. 4.
Deputy Chief Beck was appointed to the Department in March 1977 after serving two years in the Los Angeles Police Reserve Corps. He was promoted to Sergeant in June 1984, to Lieutenant in April 1993, to Captain in July 1999, Commander in April 2005, and to Deputy Chief in August 2006. As an officer, his patrol assignments have included Rampart, Southeast, Pacific and Hollywood Areas. As a sergeant, his assignments were Harbor and Southwest patrol, South Bureau C.R.A.S.H. and Internal Affairs Division.
Upon being promoted to captain, he was originally assigned as the Commanding Officer of Southeast Operations Support Division where he spent approximately two years before being transferred to Juvenile Division. As a Commander, he was the Assistant to the Director, Office of Operations. Upon being promoted to Deputy Chief, he assumed command of Operations - South Bureau.
Commander Beck is the current president of the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Police Relief Association and competes regularly in local motocross events. He is a current Police and Fire Motocross national champion and has won dozens of medals in state, national and international competitions.
Beck inherits a police department that has made some huge strides under the leadership of former Police Chief Bratton, including growing the department to just over 10,000 officers.Â The most visible change under Brattonâ€™s tenure is the departmentâ€™s compositionâ€”40.7 % of its officers are now Latino, 38% white, 12% Black, 6.7% Asian and 2.6% qualifying as "other," as in other than white.
Citywide homicides are down to 53.1%.Â In L.A.â€™s South Bureau, homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults are down 32.5%, with gang related crimes down 34.1%.
Filling the shoes of former Police Chief Bratton wonâ€™t be easy for Beck.Â While Bratton earned a reputation for fighting crime, increasing positive community relations and telling it like it is, Beck comes into this position relative unknown by most African-Americans and there is a lot ofÂ skepticism by many on how he will lead one of the most controversial police departments where gang violence continues to plague many neighborhoods.
Beck also inherits the mysterious disappearance of Mitrice Richardson, the missing 24-year-old from South L.A. who disappeared after being arrested in Malibu by the Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department on Sep. 17.Â Many Blacks will be looking to the new Police Chief for quick action and leadership in helping to find Richardson whose disappearance continues to baffle both the Sheriffâ€™s and her family and friends.
â€œIâ€™m not in the celebratory mood right now,â€ commented Michael Richardson, father of Mitrice Richardson.Â â€œWhile I congratulate the new Police Chief, in my opinion, thereâ€™s no time for partying, itâ€™s time to get down to business and I am looking forward to meeting with the new Police Chief about finding my daughter.â€
Before Beck can assume the helm of the LAPD, the Mayorâ€™s choice must be ratified by the Los Angeles City Council. A decision that is not expected to be announced before Nov. 10.
â€œCharlie Beck is a great choice as our next police chief,â€ quipped 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry, who represents Downtown and South Los Angeles. â€œHis track record in South Los Angeles and his strong relationships with the community are substantive and real.Â I truly look forward to welcoming him as our next chief of police.â€
8th District Councilman and former Police Chief Bernard Parks Sr. said, â€œThis is truly a job unlike any other.Â The most important thing to remember when you get the opportunity to take this challenge -- this journey, is to be honest. It is honesty that will keep you warm when the politics and the critics attempt to leave you out in the cold. It is honesty to the people you protect and to your elected and civilian bosses that is actually more important than having the job itself. Being honest about the realities involving the department as well its true and accurate accomplishments and shortcomings won't always bring you praise, but will set a standard for those who follow you. The next Chief should take the helm of the LAPD knowing that he need not try to recreate history. For this department surely has enough of that, and it has learned from its history, good history and bad. He also should remember that there will never be one person solely responsible for the progress or regress of LAPD. This Chief will hopefully be apart of a team of men and women that has brought crime down, diversified the department and improved its relationship with the community since the 90's.â€
â€œHaving honesty, having a personal and lifelong investment in Los Angeles and having the energy and willingness to work 20 hour days and be everywhere at every time in this city is a great combination of traits to have for any Chief past, present or future.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Deputy Chief Michael Downing currently serves as the interim chief until Beck has been selected and ratified.