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Ask the Chief: 2012 crime stats, patrolling LAUSD schools and 10,000 LA cops

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 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.
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The LAPD just nudged over the magic 10,000, the number of sworn police officers, but did it happen by moving officers around, rather than adding them? Police chief Charlie Beck is here talking to Patt Morrison and taking your questions about policing in the City of Angels.

We’ll also find out what the chief thinks of even tougher California gun law proposals in the wake of the Newtown massacre.  

Interview Highlights:

Chief Beck on Deployment changes following the Newtown massacre:

“I think that the responsibility of the police department is to meet new challenges as they occur, and this was a huge barrier that was broken, in my opinion, in American society when a school becomes an object of attack just for the sheer salaciousness of it. At least that’s what it appears to be. So you have to prepare for somebody that may a copycat, or somebody that may take this up as a way to advance their cause, so because of that, and for a lot of reasons, we’re deploying police officers at every middle school and every elementary school in Los Angeles at least for some period of time during the day. And I think this not only builds confidence with the parents and the kids about attending school, but it also builds relationships in a place that we need it.”

Beck on where these officers patrolling the schools are coming from:

“Well, you know obviously it does take away from something else, but you have to remember that discretionary patrol, or discretionary use of time, is part of police work. We’re not the fire department, we don’t just respond to 911 calls. We do discretionary patrol, preventive patrol, throughout the day. Roughly 30 to 40 percent of officers’ time is spent that way, so a lot of that gets directed. We may direct it towards high crime areas, or we may direct it towards schools, and that is certainly at the discretion of the department. So there is no added on cost to this, it is just doing this instead of something else.

Beck on how long school patrols will last:

“Well I can keep it up forever if I need to, but I think what we’ll do is we will reevaluate as we move forward.  I think a lot of the value of this is establishing the connections and the dialogue between us and the school administration at all these schools, and then the officers will be able to make determinations based on the risk factors involved of how much time they’ll need to spend there. But certainly for the short term we’re going to continue to do this as a mandate.”

Beck on his wife’s restraining order against a homeless woman:

“Unfortunately part of being in the public eye, and I attribute this mostly to my appearances on the Patt Morrison Show (laughs with Patt), is you attract people that have stability issues, and somebody attached herself to my wife, and was able to make some very disturbing phone calls, and so we signed a restraining order, which is something that the public can do, and something that if you have somebody who is stalking you, which is what this was, and then making threatening phone calls, which is also what it was, you can get a restraining order and you can prosecute them, and that’s what’s happening here. I hope that the individual involved gets the help that she needs, she’s in the mental health system now, that’s very important, but obviously this is something that not just the chief deals with, this is something that everyone deals with.”