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LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says he's interested in a second term

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeLos Angeles Police DepartmentEric GarcettiImmigrationWilliam Bratton

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Thursday he is interested in a second term as the city's top cop.

In comments to reporters at a monthly media briefing, Beck said he would be "more than proud" to continue as the head of the agency should city officials make the offer.

Speaking from a terrace on the top floor of the Police Department's downtown headquarters, Beck said he had conveyed his wishes to Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD. It is up to the commission, which was appointed by Garcetti, to decide whether Beck will receive another five years at the helm.

After a first term marked by tight budgets and impressive crime numbers, Beck generally has emerged in high standing.

In each of his years as chief, the department has posted declining crime numbers, continuing an unbroken string of year-over-year drops in crime that began under Beck's predecessor, William Bratton. Beck has also built on the success Bratton had in repairing the department's ties to minority and immigrant communities that had been broken over decades of distrust and abuse. In one controversial move currently being contested in court, Beck eased car impound rules for unlicensed drivers, saying they unfairly impacted immigrants living in the country illegally.

And he has dealt effectively with cuts to the department's budget, specifically the loss of tens of millions of dollars that were used to pay officers cash for overtime work.

Nonetheless, Beck brushed off the idea that a second term would be a "slam dunk."

"Mayor Garcetti is a relatively new mayor with a very strong vision of where he wants to take Los Angeles. He deserves, and the city deserves, to have general managers — including police chiefs — that are on board with his vision," Beck said. "And I hope that he has found me that way, and I will continue to try to meet his standards."

"I'm proud of my performance as chief. I'm proud of what the Los Angeles Police Department has done. I'm proud of what it has become," he continued. "But to me, it's not a slam dunk. This is a mayor that wants to take this city in a very specific and new direction."

Beck's wishes for a second term have been muddied somewhat in recent weeks amid scrutiny surrounding a controversial decision not to fire a troubled officer.

Last month, The Times reported Beck decided against a discipline panel's recommendation that he fire Shaun Hillmann, a white officer accused of pulling his gun on a black man during an off-duty altercation at a bar. Hillmann was caught on an audio recording using a racial slur to describe the man, but later told LAPD investigators he had not uttered the slur.

Hillmann is the son of a retired LAPD officer and the nephew of a highly regarded, retired LAPD deputy chief. The family's deep ties to the department have led to suggestions that Beck gave the younger Hillmann preferential treatment.

Beck denied he showed Hillmann any favoritism. Citing state privacy laws, Beck has declined to discuss the specifics of the case, but has stood by his decision not to fire Hillmann. In a rare move that underscored how much his decision has angered other officers, Beck last week released a department-wide message defending himself.

"I want you to know that in my heart I made the decision based on what I know was right," Beck wrote. "Given the charges for which the employee was found guilty, I did what was right not only for that employee but more importantly for the organization. These decisions are very difficult…I make tough decisions while trying to do what is best for the organization and I stand by this one."

Beck made a similar comment Thursday in response to questions from reporters.

Steve Soboroff, the president of the Police Commission, publicly questioned the chief's decision to give Hillmann a lengthy suspension instead of firing him. Although discipline matters are the purview of the police chief, how Beck metes out punishment is one of the areas commission members will look at as they decide whether to offer him another term. Soboroff said the Hillmann case specifically would be part of the panel's review.

To officially announce he wants a second term, Beck must submit a letter to the commission at least six months before his current term ends on Nov. 17. The commission then has until the middle of August to make a decision. After the commission makes its decision, the city's charter gives the City Council the power to reconsider the matter if two-thirds of the council votes to do so.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeLos Angeles Police DepartmentEric GarcettiImmigrationWilliam Bratton
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