Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has announced his retirement set for this spring and though mixed feelings surround the announcement, Beck said it has been an honor to serve.
“I love this city, Beck said.
“I served particularly South Los Angeles my whole life and I can’t imagine a better thing to have done with my time.”
The chief cited the ten year time limit on his service as the top cop in the department as the main driver of his decision.
“I’m in my ninth year,” Beck explained.
“My goal is to have the right group of candidates available. My goal is who the next chief is and how the department is run moving forward. I think right now we have a strong mayor in his second term. We have a good police commission that understands policing Los Angeles and we have a strong City Council led by Councilman [Herb] Wesson.
“I worry if I wait until the next elections, there would be too much change going on in one or all of those three entities and we wouldn’t have the right people making the decisions. I have a great command staff from which to choose…”
Beck hasn’t announced any particular retirement plans, stating that he would rather focus on his last five months as chief. However, he did say he wants his legacy to be as a man who loved his city and loved his department. He wants to be remembered for doing the best he could, he said.
“I came in at a difficult time and left the department in a better place,” he said.
“We thank Chief Beck for his dedication and service to the city of Angeles,” said Wesson.
“In a career that has spanned more than four decades, he has exemplified the spirit of ‘to protect and serve’. He leaves the LAPD on a path of progress.”
“I have known Charlie Beck for over 35 years; We have worked together as young officers in a black-and-white patrol car and many other assignments.”
“I have also worked alongside him his entire tenure as police chief. He is an honorable man and I believe historians will recognize him as one of the best chiefs the city has had.”
Said Sentinel Publisher/ CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, Danny Bakewell Sr., “I commend Chief Charlie Beck for his years of dedication and service to the city of Los Angeles and wish him well. Throughout his tenure within LAPD we have not always seen eye-to-eye, but I was always certain that the chief would take my calls and would listen to what I had to say, whether we were in agreement or agreed to disagree. I do believe that Chief Beck left a positive imprint on the city during his time as the chief and I hope that his goal of transparency and accountability will continue to be the motto for the department moving forward”.
Beck was appointed chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2009, according to his LAPD bio.
Until his retirement, he will continue to oversee “the third largest police department in the United States, managing 10,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees, encompassing an area of 473 square miles, a population of approximately 3.8 million people, and an annual budget that exceeds one billion dollars…”
Beck was born in Long Beach, California, in 1953. He was educated locally and attended California State University at Long Beach, where he graduated with a Baccalaureate Degree in Occupational Studies-Vocational Arts. Chief Beck was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department in March 1977 after serving two years with the Los Angeles Police Reserve Corps. In June 1984, he was promoted to Sergeant, to Lieutenant in April 1993, to Captain in July 1999, and Commander in April 2005. In August 2006, he achieved the rank of Deputy Chief, the same rank his father, a retired Los Angeles Police Officer, had attained.
But not everyone is singing the chief’s praises.
“It’s a good time [for Beck to retire] said Pastor William Smart of the Southern Christian Leadership Council.
“Too much has happened under his watch, that has been detrimental to the Black community. He never served to have a serious plan for recruiting African American officers… I hope the next chief understands this.”
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach was a little more subdued in his criticism.
“First, let’s pay rightful homage to all the people who have in various ways fought and continue to fight against police violence and for justice for its victims and our people,” Karenga said in a statement released Monday.
“For it was never about Beck as Beck, but about Beck as a symbol and sustainer of a brutal system of policing that resembles an occupying force and demonstrates daily a deep disregard for the rights and lives of Black people and other communities of color. Indeed, regardless of who is chief, the continuing task is to stop police and systemic violence and to radically reform, not only the police department, but also the social system itself which sanctions and supports it.”
“[Beck] can call it a retirement or resignation but we know that Black Lives Matter and lots of folks in the community are pressuring for the firing of Charlie Beck for the last two and half years,” said BLM founder Dr. Melina Abdullah.
“He has been very adamant about serving out his second term. We’re happy to see him go. His resignation was long overdue…”
For his part, the chief takes the criticism with the praises but tells his critics not to judge the department too quickly.
“This is a very difficult job,” Beck explained.
“I have many constituents and interest groups that I have to serve. Not every decision is going to make all of them happy. Some decisions won’t make any of them happy. Every decision I’ve made has come from my heart. I have made every decision based on the best interest of the city, the police department and the people involved, in that order.
“I think it’s important to recognize that. Don’t judge the Los Angeles Police Department by other police departments that fall short across the nation. We’re not perfect but I think we’ve certainly raised the bar in policing and we will continue to do that.”