For newly appointed Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, the last few weeks have been filled with firsts as he and the department get accustomed to Beck’s being in charge. Friday, however, offered a particularly special and personal moment for Beck, as he oversaw for the first time graduation ceremonies for a class of recruits from the LAPD’s training academy and sent them off into the field. One of the 32 rookie cops was his son.
Several hundred family members, department brass and others gathered on the parade grounds at the LAPD’s training academy for the morning ceremony. As he will do frequently in the coming years, Beck did a formal inspection of each graduate, walking along the lines of 27 men and five women standing at attention.
“Today, as these officers graduate from the academy, you become part of my family,” Beck said during remarks, addressing the parents, siblings and spouses in the crowd. “On the side of our cars, it says ‘To Protect and To Serve.’ That is what they will do with the community. But that is also what I pledge to do with them for you.”
Turning his attention to the graduates themselves, Beck implored them to reflect on the weight of the responsibility that goes with their new badges.
“What you do is important. What you do is significant. What you do determines the fate of this city. And if you do it right, this city can be a wonderful place. It can enjoy crime reduction, it can enjoy racial harmony . . . families can prosper, business can thrive. If you do it wrong, all that goes backwards.”
He warned the group of the inevitable day in the not-too-distant future when they will be confronted with a case in which “someone desperately deserves to go to jail,” but there is too little evidence to justify an arrest.
“You will be faced with a decision about whether you articulate what you know to be the truth or you change that in order that the person goes to jail. You will have to do the right thing. Process is more important than results. I require -- I demand -- that we police constitutionally. If we do that, we build faith between us and the communities we serve.”
Beck handed diplomas to each member of the class, proof they had completed the rigorous six-month training program. When his son, Martin, walked on to the dais to receive his, they embraced.
His son is the latest in a string of Becks to join the force. Charlie Beck’s father is a retired deputy chief, his sister a retired LAPD detective and his stepdaughter a patrol officer in Hollywood.