LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Next Wednesday, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck turns 65 years old. It will also be his last day on the job.
His retirement, with about a year left to go on his second term as chief, was caught by many observers as a surprise. In an Eyewitness News exclusive, Beck sat down and took a look back at the highs and lows of his career, as well as what he's doing next.
"The department is in a good place and it's a good time for me to move on to the next part of my life," he said.
Beck, the son of an LAPD deputy chief, joined the department in 1977. He patrolled some of the city's toughest neighborhoods, working his way up through the ranks. He was promoted to chief in 2009.
"I'm proud of what I've done. I hope that it's seen as moving the LAPD forward in a positive way and making L.A. a better place. Did we get to where I think we need to go? No, no, and I don't think any chief will ever say that," he said.
Under his tenure, the city's homicide rate dropped to the lowest it's been since 1967. The department is also more diverse than it's ever been.
Beck said his best day as chief was when he presided over his son's graduation from the police academy. But what about his worst days on the job?
The funerals. Five in all, and then there are the everyday pressures of overseeing the nation's third-largest police force, patrolling the nation's second-largest city.
"I feel the burden of their safety. So, that's the hardest part obviously, I think," he said.
The LAPD led the nation in fatal shootings in 2015 and 2016. Fatal shootings have dropped slightly, but department critics have been vocal in calling for Beck's removal.
At a recent Police Commission meeting, a relative of a woman who died in LAPD custody threw the dead woman's ashes at Beck.
"I know that there are folks who would like to claim that their actions made me leave, but anybody that knows me knows that I would never leave because of something like that. Matter of fact, that is more likely to make me stay forever," he said.
But he's moving on, and no, not to television news, in spite of his stint as a guest weatherman during the Eyewitness News 11 a.m. newscast. The soon-to-be former chief said the first thing he'll do is relax.
"I'll just think of it as six Saturdays and one Sunday every week, you know?" he said.
Beck said he wants to keep riding motocross and ride horses with his wife and family. As for his successor, Assistant Chief Michel Moore, Beck said the department and city are in good hands.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reflects on his impact, time managing 3rd largest police force in US
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