Antonio Villaraigosa LAPD

Choosing the Chief: THIS IS IT!


The official announcement is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 11 a.m.
at Getty House. The news media will start setting up at 4:30 a.m., and start broadcasting around 8 or 8:30.

I was made dizzy contemplating the various rumors that swirled about last night. None were conclusive, but the one thing they suggested was this: whatever we thought we knew about who was or was not a sure thing….it was all very possibly dead wrong.



Deputy Chief Charlie Beck is the quintessential cops-cop. His father was a deputy chief. His daughter is a police officer. His son is in the academy headed toward graduation. If you asked Central Casting for a guy who really looked like he ought to be Chief of Police, they’d send you Charlie Beck.

Right now, Chief Beck is the commanding officer of the department’s Detective bureau.

At 56, Beck is the oldest of the three finalists, but he competes in motocross events and is, in all seriousness, the current Police and Fire Motocross national champion.

Beck has worked assignments across the spectrum: gang units, undercover narcotics, Internal Affairs. His star began to rise most precipitously in 2006, when Bratton promoted him to Deputy Chief and gave him command of South Bureau where he gained a strong reputation for working successfully with the hard core gang intervention agencies that many previous commanders in the department had long shunned.

When Bratton brought Beck to Parker Center to take over the Detective bureau, Beck became problem-solver-in-chief, taking on the faulty fingerprint analysis debacle that was a department embarrassment, and then the rape kit backlog mess after that. Of the three finalists, he has been the one openly talked about as Bratton’s choice to succeed him.

Charlie Beck is extremely personable, a straight shooter, and no-nonsense tough when need be. He knows how to stand his ground without blinking. And yet he never, ever reeks of ego.

The rank and file like and respect Beck a lot. But so does civil rights lawyer Connie Rice plus those in some of the city’s most problematic communities. He will go to bat for LAPD officers, yet has a deep understanding of the need for still more change in the Us versus Them, Thin Blue Line mentality that characterized the department, pre-Bratton, and believes he could lead that change.


Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, 50, is the big picture guy of the three. He teaches at UCLA’s school of public policy where he talks to his students about the nature of cultural and community change. McDonnell has the ability to visualize systems as a whole and then to figure out what it might take to transform them. His 100-page plan for reorganizing the department was one of the roadmaps that Bill Bratton used when he took over the chief’s job in 2002.

Boston Irish by birth, when McDonnell joined the department, he opted early for assignments that would lead him into management. As First Assistant Chief, he is guy to whom Bratton handed the keys when he was out of town.

He moves easily among the city’s elected officials and community leaders, yet his name was most often mentioned when asked rank and file cops to name their 1st choice for C.O.P. In addition to being chief of staff, Chief McDonnell oversees the department’s Use of Force Review Board, where he has gained a reputation for being firm but scrupulously fair-minded.

Of all the finalists, McDonnell talks with the most intuitive understanding of the challenges faced by residents in the city’s low-income, violence haunted communities—including those young men who join gangs.

He is a committed advocate of community policing, and has ideas how to better accomplish it, in spite of the LAPD’s less than ideal officer-to-resident ratio.

McDonnell is a recipient of the LAPD’s Medal of Valor, the department’s highest honor for bravery.

Last Tuesday, when a student in my class asked him what personal principle most guided him, Jim McDonnell thought for a moment, then returned his gaze to hers, his face unclouded by doubt, “The Golden Rule,” he said.


Deputy Chief Mike Moore, 49, is the commanding officer for the very large Valley Bureau of the LAPD where the entire region seems to have embraced him as their favorite son.

Although all three candidates have great credentials when it comes to working cooperatively with community groups to achieve gang violence reduction, Mike Moore had the prescience to come to that party the earliest.

When he was a commander in the Valley Bureau working under then-Deputy Chief Ron Bergmann, Bergmann pioneered programs that paired local gang intervention organizations with LAPD programs, and Moore was the in-the-field guy who implemented the programs and became their public face.

After leaving the SF Valley for a year stint as Deputy Chief of the department’s West bureau, Moore was transferred back to run the Valley bureau after Chief Bergmann retired, where he continued and expanded community partnerships. That strategy, along with an early devotion to computer-driven crime mapping, plus the intense attention to detail that characterizes his management style, is credited by many for the Valley’s sharp downturn in violent crime, which dropped a startling 28 percent in 2008.

Moore is a hands on guy who does not lead from afar, but enjoys being at the center of the action in the field.

Like McDonnell, Moore was given the department’s Medal of Valor. He understands the best and worst that officers have to face—as he himself had to shoot a suspect on two occasions, one of those times fatally.

A year ago, during the Sylmar fire that decimated the Oakridge Mobile Home Park, Mike Moore quite literally rescued a woman from a burning building.

Bottom line: All three men have considerable, and very different, strengths (which number more than I can list here). None among them is perfect. (Who is?) All are extremely well qualified to run the LAPD.

And very, very soon one of them will be named to be our new Chief of Police.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images


  • Celeste where is your scoop. Shocking Joel Rubin LA Times got it at 7:45am and its Charlie Beck new Chief. blogs are stirring up saying it was already a done deal before the weekend and all these meetings all over the city are a phasod. Valley friends not happy at all over Moore not getting it but I’m sure he’ll be promoted. Cops love McDonnell and are wondering what will happen to him. I’m concerned Charlie is such a quiet guy he’ll allow Antonio to run LAPD and not have the back bone to tell him NO

  • I know, Janet, shocking. I had to run out about that time. Good for Joel!

    I think it was in fact a done deal before the weekend. That’s what we all heard. But last night there was a whole last minute kerfuffle. More on that later.

    I think Charlie will be great. And Jim also would have been great. Different guys, different strengths. But Charlie can stand his ground, trust me.

  • Good, it’s finally over, now the Chief and dept. can start getting back to work even as Beck has the obligatory intro tour. I know he was point man for clearing up the DNA backlog issue, so this should mean continued priorities in that area, getting perps off the street and not grandstanding about issues like his counterparts on the issue in the Sheriff’s and DA’s office. Actually, fact that some valley secession types like Ron Kaye tried to smear him over nothing namely, also being point man on a new generation of LAPD vehicle from Australia, made me more sympathetic to him. I’m sure he’s not a pushover or beholden to anyone or any one neighborhood. On the other hand, as Janet says, fact that West Valley groups and CM’s from there, Zine in particular (who’s been at open war with Bratton), pushed so hard for Moore might actually have had an influence and not in the way they wanted. Fact that all 3 were with LAPD for almost 30 years is quite extraordinary, they are all so well-known to the officers.

    Curious fact I keep reading: that Beck’s mother is in her 80’s but still a champ in her category of weightlifting. Celeste, if you have any confirmation of that let us know. He himself is the Motocross champ for LAPD, or something: being in top physical shape and having the genes for it isn’t vital to the job, but is a big plus in my book.

  • Celeste, a propos your kudos to Joel Rubin for breaking the story – I haven’t followed him closely per se and am giving him the benefit of the doubt for being generally a fine reporter, but I’m disappointed at the phrasing his (and Phil Willon’s) story use this morning. Referring to how the new chief will have to be more guarded in his dealings with the Council, at least initially (very true as always with a new guy or gal), he mischaracterizes a situation with councilman Bill Rosendahl over Bratton warning him that cops will have to be moved out of his CD11 district (and CD5, and W. valley) if he goes ahead with voting to reduce the total LAPD force.

    Rubin writes that for all his exemplary successes and using his ego to good advantage, Bratton sometimes had “churlish politics – last spring, Bratton threatened to remove officers from the Westside when the area’s councilman (Rosendahl) voted to halt police hiring because of the city’s budget crisis.” This is an absolutely untrue attribution of cause and effect: Bratton had made it clear all along, in particular at a Dec 08 meeting on the very issue of relative deployment of cops to Westside vs. rest of the city, hosted BY Rosendahl (in response to counstituent discontent over an LAT statement that he was having to move cops OUT of the westside to more violent areas as part of his Compstat program) that the 10,000 number is a minimum to spread cops around the city as constituents would like. Any short of that, and he’d have to leave some lower-crime areas like Rosendahl’s (and Weiss’s, now Koretz’s) districts with even few cops assigned their full-time. (HOWEVER moving them back in the moment any situation demanded it.) Residents complained at the meeting that this left them feeling too vulnerable, and Bratton urged them to express their feelings to their mayor and councilmembers, who were talking about reducing funding and total cops, since he could only do the best he could with the cops he had, obviously. This may sound too obvious to be repeated, but clearly it isn’t, since Rosendahl didn’t get the idea or later, chose to pretend he hadn’t heard it, when he voted to reduce the force (namely, to join Parks and Smith in saying that the trash fee hikes promised for cops were never meant for cops), yet demanded that cops be deployed in his district commensurate with what constituents demanded, regardless of the realities.
    All Bratton did was remind Rosendahl of what he’d been stating all along, that he couldn’t have it both ways.

    I remember that whole discussion vividly because it was also the subject of email blasts from my neighborhood council and others, and it seemed odd how dense Rosendahl was being in trying to shift the blame for fewer cops onto Bratton somehow instead of his own role in budget decisions.

    This myopia seems to persist – I noted it in Jan Perry’s Op Ed, where she criticizes LAPD (Bratton) for not putting even more cops into her district (echoing Parks), even as they were among those voting to reduce the total force. All 3 of these councilmembers seem to be playing to their own districts politically, but making no sense as city-wide policymakers. They all demand more cops (in fact, Perry and Parks’ districts already have more than their 1/15 because of need, while westside constituents are angry about not getting their full 1/15) and then leave the Chief as the fallguy for inevitably not being able to please everyone at once with a reduced force. In his Jewish Journal piece last week, Jack Weiss reminds us of this inherent conflict, which he head to deal with, that they’ll have to choose between what sounds good to their districts, and what can be done with the numbers, even if it’s politically unpopular. That may mean Rosendahl and Koretz explaining to constituents why they support Compstat’s deploying more cops to hot spots like Parks’ and Perry’s, WHILE at the same time, Parks and Perry seem to feel they never have enough cops – even as they opposed this week’s settlement with the PPL because it might reduce police deployment to their own districts. This is just plain incoherent “public policy” at the city level, and the Chief will have to go into the job knowing whatever he does will be criticized by both those with districts who have more need, and those with constituents who feel they’re not getting what they pay for.

    I’m sure Beck is well aware of this and his “unflappable” style can calm and reassure all sides and continue to do what’s best for the city as a whole: reducing the most violent crimes as a priority. BUT it doesn’t help when Rubin (and Willon) set up the scenario in such a false way, blaming it on Bratton’s “churlish” style instead of the me-first myopia of city leaders, and in effect, taking the side of those who are blaming the Chief for their own failure to make and stick to coherent policy.

  • The emails are flying today. People are really pissed off at the phasod of the selection process. Speaking of Joel Rubin he’s the only one who reported Bratton was behind the scenes working it for Beck. They’re not mad at Beck but the way the Mayor is degrading his position and making this whole issue a circus for himself. You stated that Celeste very nicely “milking it.” Bratton’s announcement by Mayor Hahn wasn’t this big of a circus. Cops are afraid the Mayor is taking over their police dept. and Beck won’t have the guts to tell him he runs LAPD. IF the Mayor’s new image team was looking for something to help, this wasn’t it. I think its already backfiring from posts all over the internet.

  • I hope the LAPD is going to change it’s racist, xenophobic and corrupt ways. The LAPD is the largest criminal organization in L.A’s Eastside, the residents of the Eastside live in fear of being killes by LAPD cops. The largest gang in Los Angeles is the LAPD, most of us live in constant fear of being killed by the LAPD.

    Even the new MTA trains in East L.A. are proof of the racism in our system, the MTA system in East L.A. is designed to kill as many latino eastside residents as possible. The trains in the westside are very different and safe, the MTA trains are another example of racism aand hate of latinos.

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