FACT FINDING MISSION: Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck (center) addresses local television stations following a closed door meeting with African American community leaders at the Sentinel office on Crenshaw Blvd. last week.
Flanked to Chief Beck’s right is Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. Left to right; Pam Bakewell (Executive Vice President and COO, Bakewell Company) Margaret Richards Bowers (Ladera Heights Civic Association), Bobby Anderson (New Frontier Democratic Club), President Xavier Thompson (Baptist Ministers Conference), Pastor Mark Whitlock (Christ Redeemer AME Church), Bishop T. Larry Kirkland (African Methodist Episcopal Church 5th District), Bishop Kenneth Ulmer (Faithful Central Bible Church), Rev. Joe B. Hardwick (Praises of Zion), Pastor J. Edgar Boyd (First AME), Adrian Dove (President of Congress of Racial Equality), Dr.
Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray (USC), Gene Hale (GLAAACC, president), Rev. William Smart (Senior Pastor of Christ Liberation Ministries), Bishop James B. Walker (CME 9th Region). Not shown is Kelvin Sauls (Holman United Methodist Church) and Leon Jenkins (President, Los Angeles NAACP). –Photo by Troy Tieuel
LAPD Chief Beck Addresses Black Leadership
For the first time since the now infamous Christopher Dorner manifesto in which he castigated the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and threatened to kill colleagues before going on a shooting spree, allegedly murdering four and injuring four more, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck collaborated with leaders of the Black community on Tuesday at the Sentinel offices on Crenshaw Blvd.
Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. organized the meeting to quell the community concern of the circumstances of Dorner’s termination, alleged murders and his fiery demise in a burnt down cabin in Big Bear.
The meeting was attended by prominent clergymen Rev. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Baptist Ministers Conference President Xavier Thompson, Pastor Mark Whitlock, Pastor Joe B. Hardwick, Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and community activist Charisse Bremond, president of Brotherhood Crusade, Marqueece Harris Dawson, president CEO of South Central Community Coalition, and Leon Jenkins, president of the NAACP.
Although few condone the revengeful heinous acts of Dorner that was carried out over nearly two weeks where the former LAPD Officer and ex-United States Navy reservist was accused of gunning down a couple, two law enforcement officers and injuring four additional officers during his spree, there were multiple concerns in the African American community.
Chief Beck, who has been with the LAPD for nearly 35 years, was charged with comforting a city, his colleagues and friends, some of whom were impacted by Dorner’s rage or had their own lives thrown in peril by the threats in the manifesto.
It was without question the most difficult time in the history of the department and certainly during Beck’s reign.
“It is important to look at the claims that Dorner made,” Beck told the group. Dorner became a probationary police offer under former Chief William Bratton’s watch, but it was Beck who inherited the horror.
“We know what are relationship is with the Black community. There has been progress and I know that it hasn’t been perfect, but I am committed to do more to improve it. There’s nothing more important to me and that’s why I am here,” Beck said.
Beck told the leaders of the personal impact Dorner’s rift had on him and his entire department, where 50 families of the LAPD feared for their own safety, having been sworn to protect others.
“We will do anything to uncover what happened and why it happened. We can not do our job without the public trust,” he said.
Beck told the leaders, “We have some healing to do.”
Bishop Ulmer applauded The Chief’s presence, but inquired about the publically chronicled conclusion of the Dorner manhunt.
“The way he had, I can tell you that the LAPD had no tactical involvement in that. We are receiving information about it, but I will make the details available to the public as soon as they become available,” Beck answered.
The Chief said the conclusion was the responsibility of the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department, and while he had LAPD SWAT on the ground, they were not involved.
NAACP President Jenkins required answers to the process in which Dorner’s appeal of his termination was denied, and Beck explained that the process is not necessarily a fact finding procedure, but rather that of making sure that Dorner received adequate representation and that the hearing was fair. The Chief suggested that perhaps Dorner could have pursued his case with the Civil Service Commission, but he did not. Beck added that the firing of Dorner had already been concluded.
Others wondered if Dorner’s military involvement could have impacted his mental capacity, but according to the Pentagon, Dorner never engaged in actual combat as a reservist. Beck did add that being a police officer and being in the military are distinctly different.
The 33-year old Dorner left many more questions after his death, where dental records revealed the identity of his charred remains.
“First and foremost I want to adamantly state that I find the actions of Christopher Dorner following his termination from the LAPD reprehensible, irresponsible and senseless,” Bakewell said in a statement.
“However, the LAPD has endured a history of bias toward African Americans in-and-out of uniform and therefore I feel there is no bad time to examine a tragedy with hopes of preventing it from occurring again,” Bakewell added.
He concluded by praising Chief Beck; “I personally want to commend Chief Beck who has transformed the department into one that is a partner to the Black community. He has implemented policies that allow for him and his department to have an honest and open dialogue with leaders of our community that fosters an atmosphere for real change.”
Beck and the leaders have committed to having continuous dialogue that is meaningful and sustainable in the contentious relationship between African Americans and the Los Angeles Police Department.