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Panel confirms LAPD chief-designate

November 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee on Monday unanimously confirmed the nomination of Charlie Beck to become the next LAPD chief. The full city council will consider his nomination on Nov. 17.

The panel addressed the chief-designate in cordial terms during the meeting. He was called not as Chief Beck or Charles Beck, but simply Charlie, a man they already know very well and a man they like.

Beck faced the committee with favorable reviews pouring in from the community. One council member called it a "love fest."

"We are absolutely delighted now that he will be representing the police department in all aspects throughout the city," said supporter Phyllis Gordon.

During the hearing, members of the panel sought to tackle serious issues, like the budget.

"We won't be able to expand the department much, if at all," said Councilman Greig Smith, chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

"The question is, if we can maintain what we have, what are you going to do with those resources? If we can't maintain it, how are you going to look at that?" he said.

Council members were at odds at times with how former Chief William Bratton used funds and deployed officers, and now the city is operating in the red.

Beck will take over a department that's going to stay below 10,000 officers for the foreseeable future, an LAPD that's had the next two academy classes cancelled, with police officers who've agreed to freezes in pay for two years to avoid furloughs.

"The officers just received a contract for two years, no increase in compensation, no cash overtime. That's a demoralizer for the officers, but Chief Beck is going to be able to motivate the officers through his connection with the officers, his direct connection, because they respect him," said Councilman Dennis Zine.

Despite the financial obstacles, Beck promises he'll maintain the momentum of the last few years.

"I am the past, present and future of this organization; I don't intend to let you down," said Beck.

Beck said that a revolution was needed when Bratton came to town, and evolution is called for now.

"Part of what I say is to ensure that people will have a comfort that just because there is a new leader that everything is not going to change, and we're not going to have a dramatic shift in the way we police the city," said Beck.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also appeared before the committee to say Beck was the right man for the right time.

Beck listed his four top goals to the committee as keeping the crime rate low, transparency, less management from the top and more local police work.

If Beck does not deliver when he officially takes the position, the "love fest" will quickly be over.

He has one more appearance before the full City Council before he can get his chief stars.


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