Seeking to cool a simmering controversy days before a civilian panel decides whether he can keep his job, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck issued a statement late Wednesday night acknowledging he signed off on the department's purchase of a horse from his daughter. He said he was "mistaken" when he said earlier this week that he had nothing to do with the transaction.
"I reviewed the file and realized that I had signed the L.A. Police Foundation's Grant Request after the donation had been evaluated and approved by the Office of Special Operations," Beck said. "I now realize that my comments were mistaken."
The foundation, a private LAPD support group, donated $6,000 to the department for the purchase of the horse. Beck has maintained subordinates handled the details of the deal, and that he did not influence their decision to obtain the horse.
In his statement, the chief said he should have informed the police commission that the horse belonged to his daughter. The commission approved the donation to buy the horse.
“After evaluating the circumstances of this donation, in retrospect, I should have ensured that the Department...identified the original owner of the horse," Beck said in his statement. "I will continue to work with the Commission to increase the Department's transparency.”
One police commissioner had raised concerns about the deal before Beck issued his statement. "I think when there is an appearance of conflict of interest, we should bend over backwards to make sure the transaction is handled by others," said Commissioner Robert Saltzman.
But Beck's statement was accompanied by one from Police Commission President Steve Soboroff.
"I am comfortable that the Chief was not involved in the selection, evaluation or purchase of the horse...and that he did not influence any decision to accept the donation by the Department," said Soboroff.
The support from Soboroff is important. He leads the five-member civilian police commission that is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to re-appoint Beck to another five-year term as chief.
“Based on the Chief's statements today, I am now satisfied the Commission will have sufficient disclosure going forward,” Soboroff said in his statement.