Tuesday, August 12, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck was reappointed Tuesday to a second five-year term despite concerns about the LAPD's disciplinary policies and openness with information.
The Police Commission voted 4-1 in favor of Beck's reappointment, with senior commissioner Robert Saltzman casting the lone dissenting vote.
President Steve Soboroff praised Beck for the elimination of a backlog involving the testing of rape evidence and for falling crime numbers in the nation's second-largest city.
Soboroff, however, also noted the commission's inspector general will be investigating reports of improperly classified crimes that may have lowered statistics on violent offenses.
Saltzman said he is concerned that Beck was not consistent and fair in his discipline process or appropriately transparent in dealings with the commissioners and the public.
He said the LAPD provides less information than it did under a federal consent decree issued in response to the Rampart corruption scandal involving alleged abuses by officers in the late 1990s.
Mayor Eric Garcetti supported Beck in his effort to be reappointed. He congratulated Beck during a news conference and said he would be a demanding boss.
The commission appointed by Garcetti generally supported Beck's reappointment, though members did speak about the need to improve communication and the discipline process.
Saltzman, who has served on the commission for seven years, preceding Beck's first term and through the end of the federal consent decree, said the chief had fallen short of expectations in ensuring fairness and consistency in discipline and in transparency and respect for civilian oversight.
"The good order of the LAPD depends on both the perception and reality that discipline is handled fairly and consistently," Saltzman said.
The independent commission sets department policy and determines whether it is followed in specific incidents. The chief has sole discretion over disciplining officers.
Saltzman spoke of a number of cases he saw as troubling because discipline was too lenient or didn't match punishment in similar cases. He also was concerned about limited discipline of officers whose conduct was determined to be out of policy.
"I find it especially troubling that the department provides the commission with less information now than it provided to us regularly when the department was operating under the federal consent decree," Saltzman said. "At the very least we should be receiving the same information ... certainly not less."
Beck said he was honored and humbled by the reappointment and added the process had been more difficult than expected and brought many lessons.
Beck said he would work on "ensuring we not only honor transparency in our speech but in our action."
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the officers' union, congratulated Beck on his reappointment and pledged to work with him to restore officer morale and reform the department's "arcane disciplinary system."
"We also would like to see him become an advocate for competitive, market rate pay and benefits," Izen said.
Garcetti announced Tuesday that the union and city had reached a tentative agreement that would equalize pay to officers hired at lower levels during recent tight budget years.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams.