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Ask the Chief: LA's top cop Charlie Beck takes your questions

Los Angeles Police Department police chief Charlie Beck stands in front of one of 300 billboard showing a 'wanted' poster for two suspects wanted for the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on May 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles Police Department police chief Charlie Beck stands in front of one of 300 billboard showing a 'wanted' poster for two suspects wanted for the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on May 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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Prison realignment programs started Oct. 1, with low-level felons shifted from state to local control, putting a frown on LAPD Chief Beck's face. He is concerned about stress on resources and risk to the general population, anticipating that 4,000 early release ex-convicts will be walking Los Angeles streets. To counter the move, he has transferred 150 cops from patrol and other assignments to deal with the fallout.

Exacerbating the problem of peace keeping is the theft of about 25 weapons from an LAPD storage facility, only five of which have been recovered.

And Occupy L.A. protests have claimed his attention as the LAPD works to keep order and avoid the kind of confrontation and violence that have plagued other cities. In the middle of a busy month, Chief Beck joined us for our regular Q&A on these issues and more.

Here’s what the chief had to say:

AB 109: Prison realignment
"The counties are ill-prepared to deal with it. We've got a state system that even though it has its issues, was at least set up to deal with volume and long-term incarceration. The local counties are really not."

"I run the city jails, and the city jails are not involved in this incarceration scheme. But the LAPD will monitor people put into probationary rule within the county to make sure they stay within the parameters of that probation, they live where they say they live and that they're doing their best to get in rehabilitative services. I think that's the way I can best protect the people of Los Angeles from where I sit."

Police treatment of the public
"I think that you're always going to have issues between the police and the public. The true test is how you work through those issues."

"Policing is a contact sport; it is inherent with conflict, just by the very nature of what we do."

Occupy Wall Street
"What we are continuing to do about it is to dialogue with Occupy LA. They have taken a position in City Hall on the south lawn that I don’t think is ecologically sustainable for a long period of time."

"What I hope that we can do is to find some accommodation where they can get their message across. We can have it on a piece of ground, preferably a hardscape, which will support them for a longer period of time."

"[Protesters] recognize that the south lawn is not a sustainable piece of property. It suffers too much damage, it's going to become a very muddy place when it starts raining, the trees are going to die and there are some health issues with being on that ground for so long."

Guns recently stolen from an LAPD building
"We've recovered about five of them at this point. There are about 20 that are outstanding at this point."

"Now remember, these are Simunition weapons. These are weapons that have been modified so they do not shoot live ammunition."

How to deal with loitering
"If you just call 911, we'll send a car out and the kids will leave, but they'll come right back. If the senior lead finds out about it, he'll start working to make some changes to the environment, or dealing with the parents, or dealing with the schools on the truancy issue [...] These problems are really symptoms of other things."

"Go to lapdonline.org. and put in your address, and it will show you your senior lead, it will show a little picture of them, have a little bio and you can make contact with them through their email — they all are assigned BlackBerrys, they get their email 24 hours a day."

Crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries
"It's not that I disagree with what the voters passed, it's that it has morphed into something that was never intended. It has become a for-profit enterprise."

"True collectives where there’s no profit involved, [...] that’' not what we’re interested in. What we're interested in is for-profit centers that go far beyond the scope of the law. I think that's also the interest of the federal government."

"The Los Angeles Police Department, right now, as of today, is 46 percent Hispanic, 32 percent white, 13 percent African-American. We have almost 6 percent-Asian American – this is the most diverse department in city government by far. [...] 20 percent women. These are achievements that have come from recruiting the right folks, training the right folks, promoting folks based on merit. I’m proud to have an organization that reflects L.A."

Help out with the "Grim Sleeper" case
"If you go to LAPDonline, you will see 48 photos that were found in the possession of Lonnie Franklin. [...] These 48 photos are up on the website so we can determine whether or not these people are also linked to Lonnie Franklin. He was a trophy keeper. He kept photos of many women that he killed."


Charlie Beck, Chief, Los Angeles Police Department