Charlie Beck nomination as next LAPD chief approved by LA's Public Safety Committee

Deputy Chief Charlie Beck looks on as Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton holds his last press conference outside the new Police Administration Building on October 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Deputy Chief Charlie Beck looks on as Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton holds his last press conference outside the new Police Administration Building on October 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck moved one step closer to becoming Los Angeles' next top cop as the City Council's Public Safety committee unanimously approved his nomination today.

The full City Council will consider his nomination Nov. 17.

He told the committee he’d be a chief who thinks outside the box.

"I don't even know where the box is," he said, with a laugh. "It’s not just a matter of thinking outside of it.  I literally look at things - every time - as if they were brand new."

Asked to discuss his vision for the LAPD, the 56-year-old Beck told the committee, ``First, the Los Angeles Police Department has to be ... the most effective policing organization in the nation. We have to drive crime down. We have to increase public confidence. But we have to do it with constitutional policing.''

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said she has worked with Beck on several occasions.

"You've always been very honest and very forthright and very candid and even when you disagree, you're a good listener," she said.

Beck, a 32-year police veteran, is the LAPD's chief of detectives. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nominated him to replace former Chief William Bratton, who left the department at the end of October to work for a security firm in New York.

Beck said he plans to ``decentralize'' the LAPD and give commanders sufficient resources to ``take ownership of problems'' in their respective communities.

``For a number of reasons, we have managed from the top-down, which was very necessary in the early years of reform in the LAPD, but now we have to manage from the bottom up,'' Beck said. ``We have to push resources down into the patrol divisions, into the areas so that they can address problems at the local level.''

``Police work is all about locality,'' Beck added. ``Crime occurs locally in (the) vast majority of instances, and the solutions come from local policing in the vast majority of issues. So I will look at the specialized units and try to spread resources down from downtown into the divisions. I intend to hold captains highly accountable to a level that maybe I didn't hold them to in the past. When a problem comes their way, I expect them to fix it -- but they have to have the resources to do that.''

Beck also emphasized he plans to continue increasing the ranks of the LAPD, which now hovers near 10,000.

``Police work is very much about resources -- you literally get the style of policing that you pay for,'' he said.

``I was a police officer in the LAPD when it was 6,500 not-so-strong and that generates a style of policing that is totally driven by 911,'' Beck said. ``You go from one disaster to the next, putting a band-aid on and going to the next one. You don't solve problems, you don't change neighborhoods, you don't build partnerships. You just go from call to call to call.''

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally introduced his nominee to the committee.

``What I found remarkable about Charlie Beck's career is that he always took ownership of the problem; he was creative in his problem solving; he engaged a broad cross-section of Angelenos; he never said this isn't possible. Right now, I think that's what we need,'' the mayor said.

``We need a leader who's focused on making sure that the reforms that have been implemented over the last eight years, and particularly in the consent decree, are driven down to every officer. That every officer in the LAPD understands that you're never gong to arrest your way out of crime,'' Villaraigosa added.

If confirmed by the full council, Beck will become the LAPD's 55th chief at a time of severe budget crisis.

The mayor and council members agreed recently to maintain the ranks of the LAPD at 9,963 officers. They also agreed to suspend enrollment at the Police Academy in November and December. Meanwhile, the opening of a state-of- the-art jail in downtown Los Angeles has been beset by delays because the LAPD cannot afford to hire enough jail wardens to staff it.

Last month, the police officers union -- the Los Angeles Police Protective League -- agreed to forgo salary increases for two years and convert overtime pay into time off in order to avoid widespread furloughs and layoffs.

The city Police Commission chose Beck, Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Deputy Chief Michel Moore from a field of 13 candidates as finalists to replace Bratton. McDonnell, 50, had been Bratton's chief of staff and second-in- command. Moore, 49, has overseen LAPD operations in the San Fernando Valley for the past seven years.