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L.A. City Council panel confirms Charlie Beck as police chief

Nominee promises to push former Chief William J. Bratton's reforms 'down into the patrol cars.'

November 10, 2009|Joel Rubin

The City Council's Public Safety Committee on Monday unanimously confirmed Charlie Beck's nomination to be the next Los Angeles police chief.

The vote came after a hearing in which community leaders and council members praised Beck's work at the Los Angeles Police Department and called him the right man to take over the department right now.

Beck made his own presentation, saying his top goal was to extend the reforms begun by former Police Chief William J. Bratton and move them down into the rank and file of the department.

"Now is the time to push down into the patrol cars," Beck said of the reforms, adding that this effort would be the "hallmark of my leadership."

Council members said they have worked with Beck and have come to respect him.

"From the ground up, he has an understanding of what this job requires," Councilman Dennis Zine said. "From the command level, from the street level, he understands the demands and the issues. He is in a unique position for this job."

Beck was chosen last week by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to replace Bratton, and the selection has been praised by rank-and-file officers and civil rights activists.

The full council is expected to vote on Beck's nomination Nov. 17.

In an interview with Times reporters last week, Beck -- an LAPD veteran and current deputy chief -- portrayed himself as a leader rooted by his ties to rank-and-file officers, as opposed to Bratton, who reformed the department by focusing on its upper echelon.

He said he would concentrate on continuing reforms Bratton introduced into the mind-set of the thousands of officers who are the heart of the organization.

Beck said he planned to give greater authority to the captains who run the department's dozens of field stations. Currently, decisions on how to deploy a large segment of the department's force are made by commanders at the LAPD's headquarters. Field captains should have more discretion, Beck said.

Amid an ongoing debate over the size of the force and whether the city should continue to fund an effort by the mayor to add 1,000 officers, Beck said he believed the current number of officers, which hovers near 10,000, should be viewed as "a floor, a basement." Any drop in numbers, he said, would make it difficult to continue with gains made under Bratton.


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