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From the top: Q&A with LAPD Chief-designate Charlie Beck [UPDATED]

November 6, 2009 |  4:46 pm

Beck Charlie Beck, chief-designate of the Los Angeles Police Department, visited with reporters, editors and members of The Times' editorial board Wednesday, the day after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his nomination of Beck as the next LAPD chief. In some areas, Beck distinguished himself (though cordially so) from former Chief William J. Bratton, pointing out that his method of effecting change by focusing on rank-and-file officers differs from his predecessor's emphasis on establishing policy and working with political leaders. Beck expressed support for greater transparency in police oversight (the subject of a Times editorial Saturday*) and Special Order 40, the department mandate that prevents officers from initiating police action for the purpose of determining someone's immigration status.*

Below are audio clips of the session; I've included notable quotes by Beck on each topic. Segments two through eight begin, in order, with questions posed by Times staff members Jim Newton, Patt Morrison, Nick Goldberg, Marjorie Miller, Joel Rubin, David Lauter, Eddy Hartenstein and Newton. The first clip doesn't begin with a question.

LAPD reform, from the ground up

"You'll think of me as more of a cop's chief rather than a leader-manager with vision."

"I have a similar vision to his, but my character's different. I think I'm a better-suited leader to drive the changes down."

Federal consent decree

"All of the issues that the consent decree was created to address, I agree with, and those will continue. Now, some of the mechanics have become ill-suited because either we've reached universal compliance on them, but that doesn't necessarily declare victory on the issue. There are other ways to do this monitoring that is smart."

Transparency in police oversight

"My core belief is that when you become a police officer -- and you're entrusted with life, liberty and life and death of people in the community -- that you give up some right to anonymity that most other people enjoy. Unfortunately, state law doesn't agree with me on that."

Relationship with the Police Protective League

"I think the union is a huge ally. I think that a manager that ignores the authority and power of a union, such as some of ours have done in the past, ignores a huge opportunity to mold his workforce. So the union is very important. Do I think we're going to agree on all issues? No."

Immigration and drug enforcement

"I believe in Special Order 40. I believe in not just the words on paper, but the spirit of Special Order 40. I think that especially in Los Angeles, that we have to represent everybody, that everybody has the right to quality police service, regardless of status. I don't think that we should be an arm of the federal government in enforcing immigration laws specifically. However, if we make a legal arrest on another charge, and a criminal is monitored by Immigration, then they should have access to him."

LAPD size

"I think we are a police department that the majority of residents in Los Angeles feels comfortable with, and that's largely due to the increase in size."

"At 10,000 [officers], we can start to address core issues, because you are able to provide that basic level of service and add on the problem-solving piece. So I think that size that we're at right now should be looked at as a floor, the basement."

Beck's leadership team

"The team that got us here in the first place is still here. Nobody is being thrown out; nobody has told me that they're leaving. I intend to use the players that we have."

Work outside Los Angeles

"I'm going to go out a lot more than I would have if Bill Bratton had never been here, but I certainly won't travel as much as he did. This is my home, this is where my family is, this is where all my avocations are, all the things I like to do, so I'm going to be -- I'm a local boy, always have been. So that's the way I'll be as a chief."

Lessons learned from predecessors

"If I ever become a detriment to this police department because of my personality, because of something I did, then I'm gone."

"It's more important that the Los Angeles Police Department and the city of Los Angeles do well than it is that Charlie Beck does well. So I think that is the key lesson."

-- Paul Thornton

*Update: The Times' editorial on transparency in the LAPD is now online; click here to read it.

*Update 2: A retired LAPD captain kindly wrote to inform me that my previous summary of Special Order 40 -- "the department mandate that prevents officers from obtaining the immigration status of detained suspects" -- was incorrect.

Photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief-designate Charlie Beck. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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