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Mayor Eric Garcetti to do third round of interviews with LAPD chief candidates

Mayor Eric Garcetti to do third round of interviews with LAPD chief candidates
The three finalists for Los Angeles police chief are Robert Arcos, left, Michel Moore and Bill Scott. (Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will interview the three finalists for chief of the Los Angeles Police Department at least once more before making a decision.

Garcetti described his timetable Monday at a news conference in answer to reporters' questions. The three finalists — LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos, LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore and San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott — have already been interviewed twice by the mayor.

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Also Monday, Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said that Arcos should have disclosed his daughter's drunk driving issues to the commission, which interviewed him and other candidates before selecting the three finalists.

Arcos' daughter, Chelsea, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison for killing two people in a 2006 drunk driving accident.

Soboroff said he learned of the incident in a Times article on Friday. "I think that's something that easily could have been brought up and should have been brought up," Soboroff said.

After Chelsea Arcos' arrest, the LAPD's internal affairs group investigated an allegation that Robert Arcos used his influence to alter a probation report in his daughter's favor. Arcos was eventually cleared, and he denies wrongdoing.

In 2015, after her release from prison, Chelsea Arcos was in another drunk driving accident. She was convicted of misdemeanor DUI and sentenced to an alcohol treatment program and 60 days in jail.

The other driver, who was not seriously hurt, sued Chelsea Arcos and her parents in January, alleging that the Arcoses should have prevented their daughter from getting behind the wheel and that Robert Arcos used his position in the LAPD to get his daughter a light sentence.

Arcos has denied that he tried to influence the case. Chelsea Arcos' previous convictions could not legally be used to upgrade the charge to a felony, according to the L.A. County district attorney's office.

Soboroff said he would not have held Chelsea Arcos' drunk driving issues against her father. He thought Robert Arcos handled the situation well by speaking to high school students about the consequences of his daughter's actions.

But a devastating experience like that is relevant to understanding who Arcos is, why he wants to be chief and what life events have influenced him, Soboroff said.

"Any of these three could be a great chief, and it would have been better if I'd known about it," he said.

Another police commissioner, Sandra Figueroa-Villa, said Arcos did not need to disclose his daughter's drunk driving history to the commission. She said she knew about it before Arcos' interview with the commission.

"He didn't have to divulge that to us," Figueroa-Villa said. "They shouldn't involve our children. She paid her debt, and had she not, it really would have been different."

Arcos said he had no comment on Soboroff's statement.

In a statement he tweeted Friday after the publication of The Times article, Arcos apologized for his daughter and said he has tried to educate young people about the dangers of drunk driving.

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"I believe that the experience has made me more empathetic to the plight of families, and more passionate about the obligation to work with schools, programs and the community to reduce drunk driving," Arcos wrote.

The commission's five civilian members, who oversee the LAPD, chose the three finalists from a pool of 31 applicants, forwarding the list to the mayor on May 4.

Garcetti had previously said that he hoped to choose the new police chief by the end of this month, well in advance of Chief Charlie Beck's June 27 retirement.

On Monday, Garcetti said he expects to announce his pick in the next nine or 10 days. In addition to interviewing the candidates once or twice more, he said he is open to input from the backers of each candidate.

Garcetti's choice must be ratified by the City Council.

"I want to do it right, not fast," Garcetti said.

Arcos is deputy chief of Central Bureau, which includes downtown and northeast L.A. He would be the first Latino police chief of a city that is nearly 50% Latino.

Scott, who left the LAPD after 27 years to lead the troubled San Francisco Police Department, is African American and a familiar face in South Los Angeles.

Moore, whose father was a Basque immigrant, runs the LAPD's patrol operations.

Arcos has the backing of some powerful Latino politicians, including City Councilman Gil Cedillo, while a coalition of African American pastors and community activists is supporting Scott.

On Monday, Garcetti said he is "not looking to fulfill a demographic pool" even as President Trump has stepped up deportations, which have made some immigrant residents fearful of law enforcement.

All three finalists have good records on immigration, he said, noting that Beck, who is white, has been a strong advocate for the city's immigrants.

"You don't have to be Latino to speak powerfully about how important it is to have a police department that cares for our immigrant communities," Garcetti said.

For more news on the Los Angeles Police Department, follow me on Twitter: @cindychangLA

UPDATES:

8:55 p.m.: This article was updated with Arcos offering no comment on Soboroff's statement.

This article was originially published at 8:25 p.m.

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