Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck surprised even his closest staffers with the unexpected announcement.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck surprised even his closest staffers with the unexpected announcement, alongside the city’s annual crime statistics, that he would be stepping down in June.
Chief Beck’s tenure as chief has been mired in controversy. Beck still musters goodwill with some for his reforms implemented in the Rampart Division after their enormous corruption was uncovered in the ’90s. However, rising crime rates paired with a scandal in the LAPD’s cadet youth program grabbed headlines over his tenure as chief. Even worse, LAPD became the police force most likely to use deadly force in the country under Beck. This use of deadly force cut unevenly across racial lines, with the bulk of the police murders happening in Boyle Heights and South LA.
For the past three years the local chapter of Black Lives Matter has called for Beck’s firing, due to lax officer discipline for one of the country’s most murderous police forces. In recent months the group has turned up the pressure, staging weekly protests in front of the Hall of Justice with a coalition of allied groups.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, Chair of Pan African Studies at Cal State LA and lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, said of the soon-to-be-former LAPD Chief, “we began the call to fire Beck in June 2015. We made the demand of the mayor and of the police commission, showing up at commission meetings every single week, camping out in front of Police headquarters, the mayor’s residence, and City Hall, making daily calls to the mayor, engaging in regular demonstrations, and doing work to shine a light on the corrupt, brutal, and murderous practices of LAPD under Beck’s watch”. She added, “May this victory be a way of honoring the lives of Wakiesha Wilson, Brother Africa, Jesse Romero, Keith Bursey, Ezell Ford, Brendon Glenn, Kenny Watkins, Redel Jones, Eric Rivera, and all who were murdered by LAPD. May it offer some comfort to their families. And may it energize the movement to transform public safety in this city and nation.”
With no replacement waiting in the wings, the question now for LAPD is whether they will embark upon real reform, or put another lifetime member of the force in charge. As Beck will remain in the post until June, there will be plenty of time to pressure the city into, finally, putting someone in charge with the needs of the community in mind.