Crime & Justice

Garcetti heaps praise on Beck amid new allegations against the LAPD chief

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is seeking a second five year term.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is seeking a second five year term.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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Despite new allegations he may have influenced a discipline case connected to his daughter, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck won exuberant praise from Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday.

“This is a police chief I’m very happy with and has done a great job,” Garcetti told reporters at City Hall, citing the drop in crime and improved community relations. The five member police commission, appointed by Garcetti, votes on whether to reappoint Beck, 61, to another five-year term as chief next Tuesday. 

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Beck’s daughter, who is an LAPD officer, dated a sergeant while the two worked at the Hollywood station. LAPD brass considered demoting the sergeant for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, but decided against the move after he threatened to make public his romance with the chief’s daughter, according to the published report.

The LAPD responded to the report with an unusual late night statement issued on Sunday.

"Chief Beck was not involved in any way with the investigation, review or adjudication of the case,” the statement said. “In all disciplinary matters involving his two adult children who are officers with the LAPD, other high-ranking and experienced personnel fulfill those responsibilities." Beck’s son is also an LAPD officer.

“That's also what I've been told happened in this case,” Garcetti said. “In the meantime, I am confident the police commission, as they are investigating any accusations, that they'll look into that.”  

But the case raised the ire of some officers.

"Had it not been a case where the chief’s daughter was involved, the outcome would have been different," said Captain Peter Whittingham, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Criminal Gang-Homicide Division. He wrote to the police commission complaining about how the case was handled.

Whittingham, who joined the department in 1988, has filed a lawsuit that accuses Beck of improperly trying to influence decisions by disciplinary boards and of retaliation against him. He is seeking unspecified damages. The LAPD does not comment on pending litigation.

“The disciplinary system has been so discredited that nobody has any faith in the system,” Whittingham told KPCC. He opposes Beck’s reappointment.

Beck has previously come under criticism for favoritism. He overruled a disciplinary board’s recommendation to fire Officer Shaun Hillman, the son of a former deputy chief. Hillman lied about using racial slurs, according to the board. Beck said the board found Hillman guilty of three of eight department violations, and that he didn’t deserve to be fired.

“Arbitrary and inconsistent” discipline was among the grievances cited by the president of the union that represents nearly 10,000 rank and file officers during a city council meeting last week. Officers attended the meeting to demand better pay.

“Adding to the frustration is the department’s refusal to revamp a disciplinary system that has lost all credibility,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The league has not taken a position on the chief’s reappointment.

Beck faced criticism for how he dealt with the seven officers who mistakenly opened fire on two women during the hunt for former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner. He put them on desk duty for a year, but allowed them to return to the field.

Beck has his supporters in the department. “Charlie is very approachable. He is always there with a handshake and a kind word,” said Detective Craig Marquez, a 19-year veteran of the department. He supports Beck’s reappointment.

Asked about the discipline system, he said he wasn’t concerned.

“I think you find that in almost every walk of life, its often not what you know, its who you know,” Marquez said. “I think if they can come out with a chief that treats everybody fairly, it would be great.”

“I think it’s hard in actual practice,” he added.