Beck is sworn in as LAPD chief

Charlie Beck is sworn in as the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.
Charlie Beck is sworn in as the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.
Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa swore in Charles Beck as the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday. The swearing in came minutes after the City Council unanimously confirmed Beck.

Everyone calls him Charlie. Today they can call him Chief Charlie, said City Councilman Dennis Zine.

The mayor swore in Beck in as his family looked on. His father was an LAPD Deputy Chief and his sister was a detective. His daughter currently served on the force and his son is in the police academy.

Villaraigosa chose the 32-year police veteran to replace former Chief William Bratton, who left the department two weeks ago to work for a security firm in New York.

The 56-year-old Beck, currently LAPD's chief of detectives, has said he wants to make the department "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,'' he told the City Council's Public Safety committee, which confirmed his nomination last week.

Beck also told the committee he wants 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.''

Beck stressed he plans to continue increasing the ranks of the LAPD, now 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 9/11,'' 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.''

Beck becomes 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, instead of continuing to bulk up the department. They also agreed to suspend enrollment at the Police Academy in November and December.

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.

Villaraigosa chose Beck over Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Deputy Chief Michel Moore, all of whom had been recommended by the Police Commission.

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.