Chief Charlie Beck was appointed Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2009. Chief Beck oversees the third largest police department in the United States, managing 10,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees, encompassing an area of 473 square miles, a population of approximately 3.8 million people, and an annual budget that exceeds one billion dollars. Having facilitated his predecessor’s successful reengineering and reform effort, Chief Beck continues to evolve and refine those strategies to further the Department’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of 21st Century Policing. Major components of this endeavor include the mitigation of crime, the reduction of gang violence, the containment of terrorism, and the continuation of the reforms that brought the Department into compliance with the Consent Decree.
Chief Beck was born in Long Beach, California, in 1953. He was educated locally and attended California State University at Long Beach, where he graduated with a Baccalaureate Degree in Occupational Studies-Vocational Arts. Chief Beck was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department in March 1977 after serving two years with the Los Angeles Police Reserve Corps. In June 1984, he was promoted to Sergeant, to Lieutenant in April 1993, to Captain in July 1999, and Commander in April 2005. In August 2006, he achieved the rank of Deputy Chief, the same rank his father, a retired Los Angeles Police Officer, had attained.
As an officer, Chief Beck’s patrol assignments have included Rampart, Southeast, Pacific and Hollywood Areas. As a sergeant, his assignments included Harbor and Southwest Patrol, South Bureau C.R.A.S.H. and Internal Affairs Division. Upon being promoted to captain, he was initially assigned to Southeast Division followed by terms as the Commanding Officer of Juvenile Division, Central Area and finally Rampart Area. As a Commander, he was the Assistant to the Director, Office of Operations. Upon his promotion to Deputy Chief, he assumed command of Operations-South Bureau. Chief Beck went on to become Chief of Detectives, where he implemented innovative, far ranging and visionary changes to the Detective Bureau.
Chief Beck is renowned for his ability to forge traditional policing methods, community outreach programs, tempered with the input of diverse stakeholders to form enduring crime abatement programs. During Chief Beck’s tenure as Central Area’s Commanding Officer he formulated the original Safer Cities Initiative. This program brought together a coalition of City Department, Council Offices, homeless advocacy groups, and service providers to provide shelter and mitigate crime perpetrated against the homeless. This phalanx of governmental and private agencies became a model of efficiency and has been replicated nationally.
Chief Beck was also charged with reforming the beleaguered Rampart Area in the aftermath of the Rafael Perez scandal. Chief Beck utilized inspirational leadership fostering change from the roots of Department and up, ensuring all changes are evolutionary and withstand the test of time. Effecting change from the bottom to the top of the chain of command ensures a long lasting institutional change. Chief Beck also built community and racial harmony through the elusive goal of transparency and effective constitutional policing. The techniques Chief Beck employed are well-documented in the Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel’s report to the Police Commission entitled, Rampart Reconsidered: the Search for Real Reform Seven Years Later. The Panel reviewed the lessons learned and missed in the aftermath of the Rampart crisis and recommended that the department follow the community policing leadership model used by Chief Beck and his team in his successful turnaround of the Rampart Area.
While the Commanding Officer of Rampart Area, Chief Beck was also able to form an alliance of community and political groups to reclaim MacArthur Park for the citizens of Los Angeles. This effort involved the support and funding from a diverse group of public and private entities. This included the City Attorney, the Mayor’s Office, the Local Council Office, the United States Forest Department, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Central American Resource Center, multiple businesses and the general public. Stakeholders shared the goal of eliminated crime within the park boundaries and reclaiming it for recreation. Initially, public safety was restored and then a “buy-in” for officers assigned to Rampart was created. Public and private funds enable the purchase of a closed circuit television system. The park was then revitalized through tree trimming, lawns reseeded, lights repaired, and facilities enhanced. Soon crime was reduced to historic lows and families returned to the park in droves. The project was the essence of community policing, received national recognition, and was awarded the Webber Safety Award for Community Policing.
Another change enacted by Chief Beck was the melding of Gang Operations Support Division and Narcotics Division into Gang and Narcotics Division. This new Division facilitates the efficient targeting and dismantling of narcotics trafficking and violence by gangs and effectively undermines the gang’s ability to perpetuate as an ongoing criminal enterprise. By bringing the expertise of both gang and narcotics detectives together, their investigative efforts are expanded in a synergetic effort directed at targeting the gang’s infrastructure and ability to profit from illicit narcotics and firearms sales, resulting in reduced gang violence.
Chief Beck is a Director and past president of the Los Angeles Police Relief Association. He competes regularly in local motocross events. He is also a past Police and Fire Motocross National Champion and has won numerous medals in state, national and international competitions. Chief Beck is married with three children. Two of Chief Beck’s children are also Los Angeles Police Officers.