Southern California breaking news and trends

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck back at work after motorcycle accident

Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th Annual Fundraising Gala

Toby Canham/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck poses for a picture at the Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th annual fundraising gala held at the new LAPD Headquarters on November 7, 2009.

Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck promised he'd be back at work Monday, and true to his word, LA's top cop was back after injuring himself in a motorcycle accident, Officer Sara Faden told the AP.

Beck, a frequent guest on KPCC's air, broke his collarbone in a motocross accident Friday in a spill that the LAPD are tight-lipped about despite the being deemed "minor".

Appointed in 2009, Chief Beck oversees the third largest police department in the United States and an annual budget that exceeds $1 billion.

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Murder suspect shot by officers after lengthy chase through central Los Angeles

car chase

NBC-LA

A murder suspect led police on a lengthy chase Tuesday before being shot by officers.

A murder suspect led police on a lengthy car chase Tuesday evening. It ended when officers shot the man.

The pursuit started at about 6 pm on Sunset Blvd. near Rosemont Ave. in Echo Park. Police say the man was driving a car reported car-jacked in North Hollywood earlier in the day. Police say they also suspect the man may have been involved in an unrelated murder, said LAPD Officer Rosario Herrera.

After a chase through Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, Rampart, and Downtown, the suspect collided with another car near 7th St. and Bixel Ave. and opened his car door. 

Herrera said the man was holding a shotgun when he exited the car. Police quickly opened fire and hit the suspect after a shootout. 

Officials with the LAPD's force investigation division were dispatched to the scene to investigate the officer-involved shooting. 

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Attorney confirmed to LA's Police Commission

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

The nomination of an attorney who previously served on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners was unanimously approved the Police Commission

Attorney Rafael Bernardino was appointed to the Board of Police Commissioners Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.

Bernardino previously served on the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commission. During his confirmation hearing, Bernardino expressed concern about the city’s worker compensation claims.

High profile cases of alleged police misconduct, such as the use of force cases involving Alesia Thomas and Michelle Jordan, are also a financial problem for the city, Bernardino said.

“I see it as — that’s $400,000 in legal fees and that’s a potential $2 million case,” he said. “When I look at the City of Los Angeles, made up of working men and women, especially in these difficult times — you know, $2.5 million for 10 seconds of bad judgment is a cost benefit that we cannot afford.”

Bernardino replaces former commissioner Debra Wong Yang. The Police Commission is the five-member civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department. 

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More details emerge in death of woman in LAPD custody

LAPD

Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD is facing new allegations of excessive force, after a woman died in police custody.

On July 22, Alesia Thomas stopped breathing while she was in the back of an LAPD patrol car. Officers called paramedics and Thomas was rushed to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, where she was pronounced dead. 

Now the question for Internal Affairs investigators at LAPD is whether Thomas died as a result of officer actions, and if she did, whether those actions were justified by the situation. According to LAPD, officers used force when they arrested Thomas, who they say was uncooperative, on suspicion of child endangerment.

According to LAPD, officers at the Southeast Station found two boys, 3 and 12, sitting on a bench by the station. 

"We interviewed the kids. They said they hadn't eaten anything in a couple of days, so we of course got food for them from a local restaurant, and did a follow-up to their house to find out what the story was with the mother," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

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Police Commission approves changes to counterterrorism program

LAPD

Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD says it's continuing to work with community groups to refine controversial counterterrorism program.

The Police Commission codified changes to a counterterrorism program known as "Suspicious Activity Reporting" (SAR) Tuesday.

Civil liberties advocates had been in negotiations with LAPD for months over the program, which enables local law enforcement to act on reports of activities that may not be obviously criminal if they believe information-gathering could serve national security.

It also shares gathered information with federal and state agencies, creating a database of people, events and activities that law enforcement could potentially use to identify trends and patterns in their quest to stifle terrorism.

SAR was developed in Los Angeles as a way to help prevent terrorist attacks, and has been replicated nationally in a number of cities. 

The problem with the program, civil liberties advocates have said, is that innocuous activities — like taking pictures of an airplane, pointing binoculars at a bridge or praying in a parking lot — can look suspicious. And, they point out, when it comes to Muslim Americans, officers and civilians alike may be more likely to find normal behavior suspect.

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