Charlie Beck’s Replacement Should Let Cops Be Cops

charlie beck replacement

As the search begins for his replacement, some in Los Angeles are celebrating Charlie Beck‘s departure. The call for the Los Angeles police chief’s removal had become a weekly refrain at the police commission meetings held every Tuesday morning. Despite his reformist reputation— he sought to protect immigrant communities and oversaw the completion of a consent decree imposed after the 2002 Rampart corruption scandal — the list of criticisms was long, particularly from people of color. So when Beck suddenly left his post on Jan. 19, more than 20 months before the end of his second five-year term, Melina Abdullah was one who didn’t see it as a retirement.

“We claim that the people fired Charlie Beck,” she told me. “We are claiming it as the people’s victory.”

Shootings are a big reason why. For activists like Abdullah — the Pan-African Studies chair at Cal State L.A. and a founding organizer of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles — the names of Carnell Snell, Ezell Ford, Jesse Romero, Kenney Watkins and many other LAPD shooting victims are never far from their lips. They oppose what she terms the expansion of the “stalker state.” The LAPD’s drone pilot program, approved by a civilian oversight panel in October, is but one example of how black and brown communities in Los Angeles have felt invaded by surreptitious surveillance and an over-militarized force.

Saying that Angelenos deserve a better police chief than Beck shouldn’t even be all that controversial. For one, Beck himself seems to agree. Upon announcing that he would leave his post, he declared that it was time to “get off the bull” and that there was “a great generation of leaders” for Mayor Eric Garcetti and city government to choose from. It was time for him to go — his words, not mine.

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Jamil Smith
Los Angeles Times

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