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Chief Charlie Beck says goodbye to the LAPD

On Wednesday morning, Charlie Beck handed his chief’s badge and four-star pin to his successor, Michel Moore.

He returned his gun, which he had inherited from a police officer who was killed in Afghanistan, to the officer’s Los Angeles Police Department colleagues.

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Beck then strode out of LAPD headquarters, greeted by rows of officers, including mounted patrols, who snapped to attention and saluted.

After shaking hands with Moore and his predecessor, former chief William J. Bratton, Beck climbed into a vintage black Pontiac GTO with the license plate “6T4 GTO,” gunned the engine and drove off to his farewell party at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park.

He turned 65 on Wednesday, so it was his birthday party as well.

His outfit — an orange button-down shirt, blue jeans and worn sneakers — signaled the leisure that lay ahead of him, after nearly 42 years in a police uniform or a business suit.

“This represented the changing of the guard. It symbolized my leaving the department and Mike Moore’s emergence as chief of police,” Beck said of the pomp and circumstance. “It signaled change, and we needed a dramatic way of doing this.”

Beck said he plans to spend time with his grandchildren, work on his 5-acre property and indulge in his well-known passion for motocross racing.

Earlier Wednesday, Moore’s appointment was confirmed unanimously by the City Council, and he was sworn in by Mayor Eric Garcetti as Beck looked on.

Beck and Moore both began their careers at a time when the LAPD was known for its harsh policing tactics. They served as captains of Rampart Division in the late 1990s and early 2000s following a major corruption scandal there and were promoted by Bratton to high positions as they worked to reform the LAPD under a federal consent decree.

Moore is likely to continue the path set by Beck of improving relationships with young black and Latino residents and trying to stay attuned to the concerns of the rank-and-file.

The new chief told council members that he plans to recruit more women and African Americans.

“They will trust us more because they see themselves in us,” said Moore, 57, who previously headed the department’s patrol operations and who has served in the LAPD for almost 37 years.

Still, Beck’s departure represented the end of an era for the LAPD, which he led for nearly nine tumultuous years during a time when controversial shootings of black men and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement placed unprecedented public scrutiny on police use of force.

Spurred by the civilian Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, Beck equipped his 10,000 officers with body cameras and instituted training focused on defusing volatile encounters. He was the architect of a community policing program that places officers as problem solvers and allies in the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

Beck also sought to strengthen the LAPD’s relationships with immigrants and ease hardships for residents who live in the country illegally.

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“He has managed to be a father to this department, to this city and to his family all at the same time,” Garcetti said Wednesday. “Charlie Beck has set the bar high, and Mike Moore is looking up at it.”

The four stars now pinned to Moore’s collar were worn by Bratton before Beck.

At the farewell party, held on the same field where Beck graduated from the Police Academy in 1977, Bratton said he sees Moore’s appointment as a continuation of his own work as an outsider charged with transforming the department.

Beck kept the LAPD afloat during a fiscal crisis at the beginning of his first term and managed to improve race relations even after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, increased public hostility toward the police, Bratton said.

“He was able to move forward and keep the ship on course in very turbulent waters,” Bratton said.

Earl Paysinger, a retired LAPD assistant chief who is now vice president of civic engagement at USC, said Beck possesses the best qualities of the department’s recent chiefs — Willie L. Williams’ love for the community, Bernard C. Parks’ encyclopedic grasp of the department and Bratton’s long-range vision.

“He took a little from each one of them and emerged as what I believe in the future people will recognize as the most gifted chief who ever led the LAPD,” Paysinger said.

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