The L.A. Trader Joe’s Shooting Story has Taken an even Darker Turn.

Melyda “Mel” Corado
Los Angeles, CA–It all began as a dispute between a 28 year-old drug addicted freeloader, Gene Adkins and his 79 year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison in South L.A. 

Adkins allegedly shot his grandmother seven times with a handgun.  In the process a 20 year-old woman that was Adkin’s yet to be identified girlfriend suffered a bullet graze wound to her head. Adkins allegedly then stole his grandmother’s car and kidnapped the girlfriend.  

Suspect Gene Adkins being loaded into an ambulance
In Hollywood, the police caught up with the stolen car that was equipped with a GPS tracking device and the chase began.  

Adkins soon crashed his car near the entrance of the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s and was exchanging gunfire  with police as he sought refuge inside of the crowded supermarket.  Apparently Adkins was wounded in his left arm by police.  That’s when the store manager, Melyda “Mel” Corado was also struck by gunfire.  Corado was quickly dragged outside to the parking lot and unsuccessfully aided by numerous officers.  She died at the scene. 

Melyda “Mel” Corado surrounded by cops in the parking lot
Cops have to make split second decisions but firing into a crowded supermarket at any suspect is absolutely against police training in every American jurisdiction.  

Requirements everywhere in the USA are that before an officer shoots that that he or she knows the target and what’s behind it.  This shooting is out of policy everywhere.  

Ballistic evidence, body cam and other surveillance video will be examined redundantly by cops, lawyers and police trainers in the coming months and even years.

Sherman Oaks Personal Injury Lawyer Lowell Steiger

I contacted Sherman Oaks personal injury lawyer, Lowell Steiger for his thoughts about the case.  Steiger said if he had the case he’d be immediately looking at deficiencies in the officer’s training, background and supervision.  He said any payout by a jury in this case could be astronomical.  He also said he’d put his own investigator on this case immediately. 


Another serious legal question may be about Trader Joe’s responsibility to protect their employees and customers.  

The biggest question remains as to when and how the LAPD will explain this disaster and own up to their failings.  

As for the cop/s that failed here it’s a huge tragedy for them and their families as well.  Nobody wanted this horrible outcome. 

As for the many friends and family of Mel Carado this is beyond a heartbreak.  Mel’s Big brother, Albert Corado now must take charge of healing his family from this unthinkable event.  

As for the Suspect, Gene Adkins, he will be charged under the felony/murder rule for Mel Corado’s death.  He will also face as many as 50 counts of kidnapping along with the shooting of his grandmother and girlfriend.  Last but not least, the theft of his grandmother’s car.  Adkins will never see another moment where he’s not locked in a cage for as long as he lives.  

As for any cops that failed, they too will pay a high price.  As for the rest of the cops that did their jobs heroically, they too will suffer greatly.  Sometimes everyone looses because of the unthinkable.  

Update:  The day after I published this blog article the LAPD confessed it was their gunfire that killed Ms. Carado.  However, they stopped short of admitting liability, negligence or recklessness.   

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Melyda "Mel" Corado
Los Angeles, CA--It all began as a dispute between a 28 year-old drug addicted freeloader, Gene Adkins and his 79 year-old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison in South L.A. 

Adkins allegedly shot his grandmother seven times with a handgun.  In the process a 20 year-old woman that was Adkin’s yet to be identified girlfriend suffered a bullet graze wound to her head. Adkins allegedly then stole his grandmother’s car and kidnapped the girlfriend.  

Suspect Gene Adkins being loaded into an ambulance
In Hollywood, the police caught up with the stolen car that was equipped with a GPS tracking device and the chase began.  

Adkins soon crashed his car near the entrance of the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s and was exchanging gunfire  with police as he sought refuge inside of the crowded supermarket.  Apparently Adkins was wounded in his left arm by police.  That’s when the store manager, Melyda “Mel” Corado was also struck by gunfire.  Corado was quickly dragged outside to the parking lot and unsuccessfully aided by numerous officers.  She died at the scene. 

Melyda "Mel" Corado surrounded by cops in the parking lot
Cops have to make split second decisions but firing into a crowded supermarket at any suspect is absolutely against police training in every American jurisdiction.  

Requirements everywhere in the USA are that before an officer shoots that that he or she knows the target and what’s behind it.  This shooting is out of policy everywhere.  

Ballistic evidence, body cam and other surveillance video will be examined redundantly by cops, lawyers and police trainers in the coming months and even years.

Sherman Oaks Personal Injury Lawyer Lowell Steiger
I contacted Sherman Oaks personal injury lawyer, Lowell Steiger for his thoughts about the case.  Steiger said if he had the case he’d be immediately looking at deficiencies in the officer’s training, background and supervision.  He said any payout by a jury in this case could be astronomical.  He also said he’d put his own investigator on this case immediately. 

Another serious legal question may be about Trader Joe’s responsibility to protect their employees and customers.  

The biggest question remains as to when and how the LAPD will explain this disaster and own up to their failings.  

As for the cop/s that failed here it’s a huge tragedy for them and their families as well.  Nobody wanted this horrible outcome. 

As for the many friends and family of Mel Carado this is beyond a heartbreak.  Mel’s Big brother, Albert Corado now must take charge of healing his family from this unthinkable event.  

As for the Suspect, Gene Adkins, he will be charged under the felony/murder rule for Mel Corado’s death.  He will also face as many as 50 counts of kidnapping along with the shooting of his grandmother and girlfriend.  Last but not least, the theft of his grandmother’s car.  Adkins will never see another moment where he’s not locked in a cage for as long as he lives.  


As for any cops that failed, they too will pay a high price.  As for the rest of the cops that did their jobs heroically, they too will suffer greatly.  Sometimes everyone looses because of the unthinkable.  

Update:  The day after I published this blog article the LAPD confessed it was their gunfire that killed Ms. Carado.  However, they stopped short of admitting liability, negligence or recklessness.   

from http://www.crimefilenews.com/

Interracial Crime Study Finds Whites More Likely to Assault Blacks Than the Reverse

Researchers using Los Angeles Police Department data from 2000-2007 found that Whites were less likely to be the victims of assaults by Blacks and Hispanics, but more likely to be victims of robbery and weapons crimes by those ethnic groups.

Whites are more likely to assault and use weapons against African Americans and Hispanics than the reverse, according to a forthcoming study in the International Review of Law and Economics

The study, based in part on data obtained from the Los Angeles Police Department for the years 2000 to 2007 on interracial “face to face” crimes, found that Whites were roughly 13 percent more likely to assault African Americans and Hispanics, and that Whites were approximately 0.5 percent more likely to use weapons against them than those two ethnic groups are likely to use weapons against Whites.

The study authors restricted their analysis to four types of “face-to-face” crime: homicide, robbery, assault, and weapon use, noting that “conditional on the suspect and victim being White, Hispanic or Black [. . .] these four crimes account for 66 percent of reported crime.”

In interactions between Blacks and Hispanic suspects and White victims, Blacks and Hispanics were found less likely to assault Whites and more likely to commit robbery and weapons crimes against Whites than the reverse.

Face-to-face crimes involving a White suspect and a White victim are most likely to be assaults, while incidents that pair a White suspect with a Black or Hispanic victim are more likely to involve robbery, assault and weapons use.

The pattern of violence shown in the study produced a picture at variance with previous research drawing from aggregate data, the authors said.

“Blacks/Hispanics assault and use weapons against Whites more often than Whites assault and use weapons against Blacks/Hispanics, but these relationships flip once we control for neighborhood and time effects in a panel data setting,” the authors wrote.

The pattern of Whites committing acts of violence against Blacks and Hispanics was found to be consistent across most of Los Angeles.

“We observe this pattern of violence committed by White individuals across almost all types of neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, and the pattern is stronger in neighborhoods that are wealthier and have a greater population density of White individuals,” the authors said.

The study, to be published in the December 2018, was conducted by Gregory DeAngelo of Claremont Graduate University; R. Kaj Gittings of Texas Tech University; and Anita Alves Pena of Colorado State University.

Of all reported crimes, 37.7 percent identify the race of the suspect and victim. Of that fraction of reported crimes, 75.1 percent involved suspects and victims whose race was either White, Black, or Hispanic.

In relation to all reported crimes in Los Angeles, assaults were found to be more likely among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. This group comprised 41.8 percent of assaults, which is 14.5 percent of all reported crimes.

Variance over time in neighborhood arrest rates, policing practices, economic conditions, and demographic changes were included in the analysis. These elements contribute to changes in the cost-benefit analysis of committing crime, general racial attitudes, and social norms which may change over time.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here. Access is restricted to members of the host website, but a copy of the study can be purchased.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern John Ramsey. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

12 L.A. Cops Disciplined for Firing from Helicopter

The decision puts the Los Angeles Police Commission at odds with Chief Charlie Beck, who determined that all aspects of the May 8, 2017, shooting followed policy. A report says officers fired at least 40 rounds at a man who shot at the police helicopter while barricaded in a hilltop home. The man was killed.

A Los Angeles police oversight panel has ruled by a 3-1 vote that 12 officers violated department rules on lethal force when they fired from a helicopter at a man barricaded in his hilltop home, reports the city’s Times. The decision puts the Los Angeles Police Commission at odds with Chief Charlie Beck, who determined that all aspects of the May 8, 2017, shooting followed policy, according to a report made public this week. It was the first time that the LAPD had dispatched a helicopter for such a purpose. During the hours-long standoff, the man fired at SWAT officers and they fired back from the helicopter, striking Anthony Soderberg, 29, who was killed.

In a report to the five-member commission, Beck said that Soderberg’s actions “presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury,” and that the use of lethal force would be “objectively” reasonable. One officer fired as many as 14 rounds, according to the report. At least 40 rounds were fired during the standoff and multiple rounds were fired from a distance of 500 feet or more.It’s unclear why the commission found the 12 officers out of policy. President Steve Soboroff declined to comment on the decision, and other commissioners did not respond to a request for comment. The office of the inspector general is expected to issue a report on the shooting shortly. The police union said it is “extremely disappointed” with the commission’s ruling.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Los Angeles Hunts for Police Chief with the ‘Right Stuff’

A chief of police is one of the nation’s toughest jobs today. Choosing the right one may be even tougher. As Los Angeles scouts a replacement for Charlie Beck, other cities might pick up some pointers.

When Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck retires in June, he’ll leave to his successor the best police department in the city’s history—one that’s no longer the hated, pugnacious symbol of repression it once was, or a primary instigator of the class and race volatility that once made the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) infamous throughout the world, and ignited two of the bloodiest American riots of the 20th century.

The principal reason for the old LAPD’s notorious reputation was myopic, insular leadership, sometimes megalomaniac and self-servingly driven, sometimes stubbornly, existentially dead, and deadly racist in its intent and execution. This was particularly true of those who led the department in the half century between 1950 and 2002.

As the Los Angeles Police Commission and Mayor Eric Garcetti begin the selection of a new chief, the rest of the country should be carefully watching.

First, because the dramatic demographic, economic and social changes experienced by Los Angeles over the past half century are shared by many other urban centers across the nation. That includes: growing homeless populations, too-high crime rates, and large immigrant populations living in daily dread of being deported.

Such issues may differ in detail from place to place. But regardless of a city’s size or special challenges, it is dangerously easy to slip back into the repressive policing reviled by so many Americans today.

All it would take to undo much of the trust and goodwill earned by the LAPD over the past 15 years, for example, is a string of controversial incidents in one of its volatile divisions that could provoke a riot—if it’s badly handled by a new chief without the “right stuff.”

Searching for a chief with the right stuff begins with selecting someone with the right temperament and experience. In Los Angeles, that means someone with a cosmopolitan understanding of their city’s extraordinarily diverse population, and a keen awareness of how each police division needs to be individually policed to meet the expectations of today’s politically aware and vocal city dwellers—especially communities of color.

But it also means understanding what went wrong—and right—with previous appointments. The history of Los Angeles police chiefs from the 1950s through the 1990s is replete with examples; and is also the story of most American police leaders of that era.

Mostly white men, they were stubbornly resistant to change and innovation; and, unable to conceive of anything beyond the big stick to reduce crime. They either wouldn’t—or didn’t know how to—accommodate the cultural and political transformations unfolding during their watch.

Take, for instance, the LAPD’s Bill Parker.

Chief from 1950-1966, he was a police leader who seemed ideal for the challenges of his time. The major issue facing Parker in 1950 was the LAPD’s historic, on-the-take corruption. A true, innovative reformer he brought the endemic dishonesty and abasement of his department to an immediate and impressive end—a step the police in New York and Chicago didn’t take until decades later.

But by the 1960s, Parker had grown old, imperious and autocratic. He was unable to tolerate dissenting opinions or criticism. Most disconcertingly, Parker’s racism was hard to miss. Once, he denounced all those “wild tribes from Mexico” pouring into his city that had to be contained. (Los Angeles Times, 1/29/59)

To deal with them—and most especially to control black Angelinos—he devised the intrusive, often brutal “occupying force” policing strategy in black L.A. that became the department’s hallmark.

As the city’s African American newspaper, The Sentinel put it: “Hardly a day passes without…physical evidence of beatings [in the black community by LA cops.]…led by a chief who has shown an unbelievable contempt for our Negro and Mexican American communities.” (Los Angeles Sentinel, 8/17/61)

All of which led to both the 1965 Watts’ Riots and set the stage the 1992 L.A Riots. Parker, in short, embodied being an exemplary chief for his time and place, as well as the kind of disaster that can happen when he or she is not.

 

Ed Davis

L.A. Police Chief Ed Davis (1969-1978). Photo via Wikipedia.

Ed Davis, chief from 1969-1978, and later a California state senator (1980-1992), shared Parker’s world view and many of his most egregious leadership qualities. But the bullying manner in which he dealt with conflict and adversity should be a red flag to anyone choosing a new chief. Smart, big and mean, Davis utterly, uncompromisingly, believed the LAPD should be accountable only to him. His response to any perceived criticism was high-decibel public bombast.

To take one example, when a local TV reporter decided to investigate a raft of bad LAPD shootings, Davis ordered the reporter’s head-shot photo placed on all targets at the police academy shooting range, and stickers with the last name of the reporter pasted on patrol-car rear bumpers reading, [Wayne] “Satz Sucks.”

As Davis’ immediate predecessor, LAPD Chief Tom Redden who served briefly 1967-1969, later pointed out: “When Ed Davis fought with everybody, the cop on the street thought he could fight with anyone, too.”

And that’s what L.A. cops did over the ensuing decades. They copied his behavior and, in the process incited trouble and anger.

Daryl Gates

L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates (1978-1992). Photo via Wikipedia

Daryl Gates, chief from 1978-1992, possessed just about every red-flag quality to avoid in a new chief. He was stubborn, unwilling to compromise, and displayed an arrogance so profound that he refused to listen to, or work with, civilian oversight entities or leaders in black or brown communities. He saw his troops as his only constituency and would defend them no matter how outrageous their behavior—which inevitably encouraged abuses of police power.

Nor did he care that L.A.’s politics, culture and demography were dramatically changing; or that vast numbers of Angelinos felt impotent to change the department and had come to fiercely hate it.

With Gates as chief for 14 years, the 1992 Los Angeles Riots were almost inevitable.

 

 

Watts 1965. Photo by beth noe via Flickr

Willie Williams left his post as Philadelphia Police Commissioner to succeed Gates. The former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Williams, who served from 1992 to 1997, was chosen because he was an outsider—the first in 40 years—and most explicitly, because he was African American. But he possessed none of the qualities needed to be the new reform chief of a riot-torn city.

Willie Williams

L.A. Police Chief Willie Williams (1992-1997). Photo courtesy LAPD

He arrived knowing no one and trusting no one, and made no allies. Incurious and inept, he lacked the skills and energy to gain acceptance within the department or to reform it.

Unceremoniously dismissed five years after being hired, Williams represented a missed opportunity for meaningful reform. The Williams lesson should be a warning to Los Angeles commissioners currently examining new applicants—as well as to other cities experiencing a change in senior police management.

  • Thoroughly vet your candidates;
  • Avoid choosing a chief because he or she is a symbol. (The job’s too big and important for that.)

 

Bernard Parks

L.A. Police Chief Bernard Parks (1997-2002). Photo via Wikipedia

Bernard Parks, who succeeded Williams in 1997, was also ill-suited for the job. Smart, and knowledgeable, the 32-year LAPD veteran knew his city, and was highly regarded by his own black community, downtown politicians and department insiders. But like his predecessors, he thought he could run the LAPD as his own private fiefdom, and treat critics and the press with disdain.

He also had a quality that must be avoided in a new chief.

He was imperious—headstrong and authoritarianSo thoroughly did his inappropriately harsh and indiscriminate discipline and top-down management alienate his troops, that they lost confidence in him. Parks never got it back, and thus could not continue as an effective leader.

The lesson was clear to Charlie Beck, who served under Parks as an ambitious young officer (and inherited his seat a decade and a half later). “The way a chief treats his cops is the way that they will treat the community,” Beck later told me. “If you treat cops like fools, or if you’re over-dependent on harsh discipline, that’s what they’ll learn [and act out] on the street.”

Bill Bratton

L.A. Police Chief Bill Bratton (2002-2009). Photo by Policy Exchange via Flickr

Beck’s immediate predecessor, Bill Bratton, changed the paradigm. As chief from 2002-2009, Bratton was confident, reform-minded, and willing to listen. In L.A. he followed his playbook as New York Police Commissioner in the 1990s. He recruited smart people and encouraged his field captains to freely innovate, and to tailor their strategies according to each individual division’s needs.

He made the LAPD a thinking organization, not one that was glued to an antiquated police manual, and afraid to take the initiative.

The clear lesson: A confident but flexible, innovative chief is a must.

Finally, Charlie Beck.

Charlie Beck

L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck (2009-2018). Photo by Scott L. via Flickr

Los Angeles and other cities in search of new leadership would do well to look at Beck as a model. Since he took over from Bratton, Beck used his strong interpersonal skills to forge ties with the opinion-makers and lever-pullers in communities, and with political groups throughout the city.

His political intelligence was manifest in how he worked successfully both with a liberal police commission and a conservative police union to reinforce and expand the behavioral/cultural changes begun under Bratton. During his tenure, all patrol cars and officers were equipped with cameras. The department’s shooting policy was also altered to include training officers to avoid the use of lethal force when possible by de-escalating tense situations.

question

L.A. Police Chief (2018-?). Image by mohamed mara via Flickr

His big-picture managerial skills also extended to dealing with his troops. He got buy-in from the rank and file for his reforms by treating all LAPD officers with the same respect he expected them to show when dealing with the public. By modeling his collegial working style and measured responses in controversial situations, he exemplified how his officers should deal with conflict.

Bratton and Beck have given Los Angeles an important gift: a police department that once notoriously defied progressive reform for decades that’s become a model for the nation.

Joe Domanick

Joe Domanick

The next Los Angeles police chief will need to have Beck’s extraordinary political skills, Bratton’s confidence and openness to change, and some of the strong-willed management skills (without the arrogance) of their predecessors.

The goal of L.A.’s police commission—as well as reform-minded police oversight bodies throughout America—should now be to avoid at all costs a new chief that could set the clock moving backward.

History has shown how difficult it is in policing to get things right.

See also: The LAPD’s Charlie Beck: A Chief for a Transformed City

Joe Domanick, Associate Director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, and West Coast bureau chief of The Crime Report, is the author of two books on the LAPD. Newspaper references above can be found in his first book, “To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD’s Century of War on the City of Dreams,” published in 1994. His latest book, “Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing,” is now out in paperback. Joe welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

31 Apply to Become LAPD’s Next Top Cop

As the application deadline passed, officials said the replacement for the retiring Charlie Beck will come from a deep pool of “highly qualified candidates” for one the country’s highest-profile police jobs.

Thirty-one people had applied to become Los Angeles’ next police chief as the application deadline passed last Friday, reports the Los Angeles Times. Few of the candidates’ names have emerged, and the full list won’t be released by the city’s Personnel Department. But there is at least one surprising omission: Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, considered a top contender, said Monday she did not apply. Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, declined to discuss the applicants in detail, saying he wanted to protect the integrity of the search. He said the applicants for the job, one of the highest-profile positions in U.S. law enforcement, included “highly, highly qualified candidates.”

The search for Chief Charlie Beck’s replacement began in January, when he announced he would retire this summer. Beck and others have expressed their desire to forgo the need for an interim chief, giving city officials roughly five months to hire his successor. Mayor Eric Garcetti will make the final selection from a list of applicants narrowed down by his appointees on the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department. The City Council must then confirm the mayor’s choice.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The LAPD’s Charlie Beck: How to Reform a Police Department

After eight years heading one of the nation’s largest police agencies, retiring Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck gives TCR a frank assessment of the challenges of being a big-city reform chief, what it takes to change the culture of American policing today, and some key lessons he learned.

As he prepares to move on after eight years heading one of the nation’s largest police agencies, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck sits down with TCR’s West Coast bureau Chief Joe Domanick for a candid conversation about the challenges of being a big-city reform chief, what it takes to change the culture of American policing today, and some key lessons he learned along the way.

 (Note: This interview has been abridged and edited for clarity.)

 The Crime Report: Let’s pretend you’re speaking to a group of reform-minded, big-city chiefs. What would you tell them is essential to understand about changing a department’s culture?

Charlie Beck: That you change culture by everything you do. Just saying that you want a more empathetic, more community-building police department focused on helping communities is only one percent of culture change.

What’s essential is how you interact with people and model your behavior. One of my core beliefs is that the way a chief treats his cops is the way that they will treat the community. If you treat cops like fools, or if you’re over-dependent on harsh discipline, that’s what they’ll learn [and act out on the street]. They’ll see the way that you deal with conflict and adversity, and how you deal with people you don’t agree with, and act accordingly.

TCR: Once you were selected chief, did you actually sit down and write a reform plan?

Charlie Beck

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by Ruperto Miller via Flickr

Beck: Yes. A lot of times managers think: I don’t need that, I know where I’m going. But the organization needs a plan. It needs a road map. We wrote a list of things we wanted to do. Of course, they change all the time. You achieve goals or you modify goals, the circumstances change. You can’t write ‘em on a chalkboard and just leave them up there for eight years. You’ve got to look at them constantly; while doing self-evaluation to realize what you’re good at and what you’re not. And then you’ve got to find people to fill the gaps. That’s really important.

TCR: One of the biggest challenges a reform chief faces is getting buy-in from the rank-and-file and key opinion-makers within a department. How did you go about it?

Beck: I did it the obvious way ─ through the traditional chain-of-command-stuff [from the top down.] But I also believe in managing from the ground up. So I went to roll calls in every station. And in every division for my first three years as chief I worked a partial shift side-by-side with officers in their black and whites. And I did all things that are iconic culturally within the LAPD that demonstrate that we’re all cut from the same basic cloth. For example, I hate to run [in department races] but I do it because it’s part of the culture.

TCR: And what did demonstrating that we’re all in this together get you?

Beck: When you say things or take actions that [many officers] don’t intrinsically agree with, like, for example, undocumented folks should be able to obtain driver’s licenses, they’ll think, “I don’t really get why that’s important to (the chief), but I’ll just wait and see.” In other words, it’s not necessarily that they buy into your ideas. It’s that they buy in to you as having their best interests at heart.

TCR: What else can you say about troop buy-in?

Beck: First, understand that it’s going to be very difficult to change an organization. Then create a bond with a peer leader in one station, and that bond spreads through the whole station. (Finally,) you want to create bonds, but not be thought of as one of the boys, because you’re not, and you have to make that clear If you want to command respect.

TCR: The [LAPD] union resisted many of your [progressive] reforms. But you were able to maneuver between a very liberal police commission and a very conservative union to get body/patrol car cameras, and a new de-escalation shooting policy. Talk a little about that.

Beck: First of all, you’ve got to understand why they want what they want, and you’ve got to know what you want and what you’re willing to settle for. Then you have to understand what the real sticking points are for the union. Second, always gauge who has the most support with the rank-and-file. You or the union?

Who will they follow? Make sure beforehand you’ve got capital in the bank [of good will] among the troops; and that you are as good as you can be on that part.

TCR: What’s the biggest lesson you learned about officer discipline?

Beck: Organizations want to overreact to small things and underreact to big things. That is very bad management. As a chief I want to insure that if officers do serious things from which there is no return, that they have no opportunity to return. So officers have to accept that kind of bottom line and deal with it.

But you also have to recognize what’s important and what’s not. We sometimes spend an enormous amount of resources over very little. You can lose a lot of organizational authority by being seen as the kind of a chief who is more concerned about what color your socks are than whether or not you’re telling the truth in court. You know [the LAPD’s] been that kind of organization before. My lesson to anybody is: Don’t do that.

TCR: What’s the most effective way to deal with a civilian oversight entity, the police commission in your case?

Beck: Involve those individuals with the members of the police department enough so they will grow to understand that these are by and large extremely good-intentioned, good-hearted people. And if they are involved enough, they’ll see just how difficult this job is. And that maybe that expectation of perfect handling of every incident or perfect handling of any incident in my estimation is something that is a false expectation. I think that’s really important.

And I think that’s what you have to look at with police commissioners. They’re going to influence you, but you can also influence them.

TCR: Talk about the political skills and strategies that a chief needs in order to deal with the multitude of players. 

Beck: First, you’ve got to know the lay of the land and that every city is different, and that every political group is different. Then you have to know who are the lever-pullers. Who are the actual people that have influence? That is an art in and of itself.

No one person can truly know that. That’s why you’ve got to surround yourself with people who understand at a really deep level who’s influential in these individual communities. Recognize that there are some people that you’re never going to change. Then you’ve also got to recognize those who, no matter what you do, will think that you’re fantastic. That’s about 10 percent on your end. And then work on the middle.

TCR: And how do you work on the middle?

Beck: First of all, you have to explain your actions as best you can in public so people gain trust. You’ve got to show respect, spend the time necessary─or make sure you have emissaries doing so if you can’t spend the time. In every major community I have a chief’s liaison person who works within that community to have an impact, especially in the African American community.

Then you have to know which divisions are important on the macro level. I have 21 divisions. Three or four of them could be a flashpoint for a riot; that could cause a huge political upheaval with very small incidents. A couple of others in which people have a huge political influence. And then you’ve got to pick the right people to go to these places, [people] who understand the dynamics.

People in these areas have one or two issues that they find immensely important. So you’ve got to recognize what those issues are, whether it’s human trafficking in the San Fernando Valley, or immigrant rights in East LA, or African-American interactions with police. You’ve got to not only know that, but make sure you work to address that with them individually. It’s just about understanding the way they are. If you don’t, then you need to find people who do, and use those people to educate you and to do the outreach in those communities that they have contact with.

TCR: How about recruit training? What are the first things a reform chief should tackle with recruit training so that when those recruits leave they understand the game as the chief wants it to be played?

Beck: When they get out of the academy, recruits are uninformed beyond the initial nuts and bolts of policing. They still have to learn about political savvy, understanding of the goals of the department, etc. What we’ve done to address that is bring the recruit class back after they’ve been out in the field for a year. Then they’re ready to understand the bigger policing picture. Because now they’re not worried about whether they’re going to keep their job, not afraid of the great unknown, what are the radio codes for a purse snatch. They’re just not ready for this stuff when they leave for the academy.

TCR: You’ve managed to keep yourself and your department out of the daily news cycle that was a key feature of the way most of your predecessors operated. Do you think that was effective, and useful?

Beck: I certainly have seen police chiefs and city attorneys who love being in the papers. They crave it. They solicit it. They take every opportunity to put themselves out there. I have no interest in that. I understand that I’m going to be out there plenty anyway.

Being a police chief is a serious job. We’re dealing with life and death, with people’s safety. When you talk, you should be taken seriously. Less is more. If you go out there every time somebody saves a cat out of a tree, clamoring for attention, pretty soon you’re just a loud person clamoring for attention, and people see that. You come out to the public for things that are important, that you do believe in and which you have some depth of understanding and ability to discuss.

TCR: Why do you think it served you well?

Beck: It’s added authority during the times when we do have to use the media. Because we do have to use the media. When I call the press conference I get the press, I get a lot of it. Because it’s not common. I think it gives you a bigger megaphone for the times when you need it. Again, the more you put yourself out there you also create vulnerability. The more times you talk the more opportunities to trip up and all that kind of thing.

TCR: What should future reform chiefs avoid at all costs?

Beck: Thinking the organization is more important than you are. Thinking that it is about you, or that an organization can be sacrificed for your own personal needs. That’s my bottom line. You cannot be seen as somebody who will throw employees or the organization as a whole under the bus in order to save yourself. And I’ve seen people who did that just lose all the authority. You have to avoid that at all costs.

That doesn’t mean you never take action. I’ve arrested employees, all that. But that’s not the same as abandoning somebody for political expediency. You cannot do that.

Joe Domanick

Joe Domanick

That shouldn’t stop you from calling it as it is when something has happened and doesn’t fit the standards of the organization. But you can’t shape the standards of the organization to fit unrealistic expectations.

See also: The LAPD’s Charlie Beck: A Chief for a Transformed City

Joe Domanick, Associate Director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College and West Coast Bureau Chief of The Crime Report, is the author of four books on American Policing and incarceration. His latest, now out in paperback, is “Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing.” Joe welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

L.A. County Introduces ‘Lighter Touch’ for Juvenile Offenders

The nation’s most populous county is embarking on an overhaul of its juvenile justice system that could in the long run, all but end the practice of arresting and prosecuting youth under 18, except for the most serious crimes.

Los Angeles County—the birthplace of heavy-handed police tactics like S.W.A.T. teams, helicopter patrols and gang injunctions—is embarking on an effort that could make the nation’s most populous county a model for using a lighter touch with juvenile offenders.

Late last year, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a sweeping plan that will make diversion the centerpiece of the county’s juvenile justice system, and could in the long run, all but end the practice of arresting and prosecuting youth under 18, except for the most serious crimes.

“This is a huge sea change and represents a whole new era in dealing with youth, especially youth of color,” said Peter Espinosa, a former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who is leading the effort.

Espinosa heads the new Division of Youth Diversion & Development, which county supervisors created within the Department of Health Services when they approved the plan last November. The department is tasked with designing a program that will ultimately serve all 46 police agencies within the county borders, including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the juvenile probation division, and the many smaller police departments within the county borders.

County health officials cite so-far unpublished U.S. Department of Justice figures that show youth arrests have plummeted in Los Angeles County over the past decade –from 56,285 in 2005 to 11,399 in 2016.Yet they estimate that in as many as 9,000 of those 2016 cases, young people could have been offered a diversion program had there been proper resources in place.

The only offenses not eligible for diversion under the plan are felonies committed with a firearm and serious juvenile crimes which the state Welfare and Institutions Code has declared ineligible for diversion. That includes: assaults that result in serious bodily injury, robbery, rape and sexual assault, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder, and several other violent felonies.

“We are trying to emphasize prevention and we don’t believe the most effective solution is incarceration,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who first proposed the plan in early 2017 and shepherded it through the county supervisors’ vote in November.

“We believe that is better for the young person involved as well as better for taxpayers.”

When Ridley-Thomas mentions taxpayers, he is alluding to the estimated $233,000 it costs to house a young offender in one of the county’s juvenile lockups for one year.

Espinosa acknowledges that bringing the plan to fruition “will be a heavy lift,” especially when considering the current state of diversion in the county. While there are diversion programs operating now, they exist in pockets of the county and are inconsistently offered.

Youth advocates have long complained that whether a juvenile is offered diversion depends on where in the county he or she is arrested, and the color of their skin. A number of studies have shown that white youth in Los Angeles and elsewhere are far more likely to be offered diversion than youth of color. Because the new diversion plan will cover the entire county, officials and advocates are optimistic that it will help reduce these disparities.

Despite the daunting nature of the undertaking, there is a palpable excitement for the plan in law enforcement as well as among youth advocates.

“It’s been a thrill to watch it unfold,” said Robert Ross, president and CEO of the California Endowment, which has invested heavily in efforts to limit youth incarceration. Because the LA system is so large, we think the direction they are headed in will have national implications.”

Breaking New Ground

Ross and others say the plan is groundbreaking because it prioritizes pre-charge diversion, meaning that a youth alleged to have committed a crime will be diverted before being booked and fingerprinted. This means that as long as he or she completes a diversion program, there will be no record of the arrest.

This is crucial, youth advocates say, because studies have shown that any contact with the juvenile justice system, even just an arrest and one court date, makes a child less likely to finish school and more likely to become further ensnared in the system.

 While advocates have long pined for pre-charge diversion, it’s traditionally been a deal-breaker for many in law enforcement who have feared it would remove an important crime deterrent. But successful large-scale diversion programs in a handful of other places, such as Miami-Dade and San Francisco counties, have suggested that those fears are largely unfounded.

High-level officials in the LAPD have bought into pre-charge diversion thanks to a five-year-old partnership with Centinela Youth Services, a local nonprofit focused on youth and community development.

The program started in the LAPD’s South Division, with officers referring 49 pre-charge cases to Centinela in 2013. Since then, the program has expanded to a dozen divisions, with officers referring 254 cases to Centinela in 2017, according to Cmdr. Jeffery Bert, the LAPD’s Risk Manager.

And though those cases represent a small fraction of all juvenile arrests by LAPD officers during those five years, the recidivism rates opened a lot of eyes.

The recidivism rate for youths who go through the county’s juvenile justice system without the offer of diversion is between 30 percent and 60 percent, Bert said.

Meanwhile, the rate for youth in the Centinela program has hovered around 11 percent.

“This program has really blossomed for us in the past two years,” Bert said. “We believe in it and would like to see its smart expansion.”

The LAPD’s experience notwithstanding, advocates say getting system-wide buy-in for the pre-charge model was an uphill battle, and likely wouldn’t have happened had they not elbowed their way into the development process, starting in March 2017 when a committee established by the supervisors began meeting to design the plan.

“Usually system change is driven by county players and law enforcement, and it gears too much toward suppression and a hammer-only approach,” said Kim McGill, an organizer with LA County’s Youth Justice Coalition.

“If we didn’t push hard and bring four or five young people to every meeting, we wouldn’t have gotten this plan.”

One young person who joined the lobbying effort is Tanisha Denard, who was charged with petty theft and sent to juvenile hall as a 16-year-old after getting caught stealing personal hygiene items from a store in South Central Los Angeles.

In an interview, Denard, now 23, claimed she hasn’t been in any trouble with the law since, and that she stole the items because her mom was in the process of losing her house to foreclosure and she didn’t want to burden her with more expenses.

But her record has been a severe hindrance as she’s tried to get through college.

“For a long time, it held me back as I tried to find jobs and pay for college,” said Denard, who is currently attending Long Beach City College. “I would do good in the interviews, but then it would come to the background check and they’d say your background didn’t pass…if I’d gone through diversion I’d be at a university by now.”

Sheila Mitchell, who heads the county’s juvenile probation division, said she was excited to see the groups that in past haven’t seen eye-to-eye come together.

“Fundamentally and philosophically, we need to help our children do well, and help them avoid the path that takes them deep into the juvenile justice system,” Mitchell said. “The beauty of this undertaking is all hands are on deck—courts, law enforcement, supervisors, and community-based organizations.”

Finding the Money

Over $26 million has been budgeted for the plan, which will be phased in over four years. Mitchell is being credited for offering up nearly half of the funding from her budget in the probation department.

Advocates characterize the $26 million as “a good start,” but add there is concern as to whether the county will dedicate the resources necessary to build capacity within community-based organizations that would sustain a countywide diversion program over the long haul.

“The county has invested a lot of money in blue ribbon panels and task forces in the past, but unfortunately they often sit on the shelf and collect dust,” said McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition.

“So, it will take the same vigilance and united effort among county players and [community-based organizations] that we’ve had so far to make sure this plan is implemented.”

County officials say they’re confident they’ll be able to find other funding for the program, including state grant money. And they are counting on charities to provide increased funding to community organizations that will serve the diverted youth.

“There’s a lot of energy for criminal justice reform in the philanthropic community,” said Ridley-Thomas, who gave the opening remarks to a crowd of more than 300 at the Youth Diversion & Development Summit, held March 1 at the Carson Community Center.

“I think charities are already stepping up because they want to see certain kind of results.”

Ross of the California Endowment said his institution is dedicated to helping to make the plan work, so much so that he showed up and spoke at the supervisors’ meeting when the plan was approved. But he cautioned against expecting too much from philanthropies, adding that the largest pool of potentially available money is the billions in taxpayer dollars currently being spent on California’s “incarceration infrastructure.”

“I think the philanthropic community will be emboldened and bolstered should the LA County plan go forward,” Ross said.

David Washburn

David Washburn

“We see our role and supporting the development and evaluating the effectiveness of the approaches. But it’s the public and taxpayer dollars that will be the main driver of change – the philanthropic money won’t be able to save the day.”

The Crime Report is pleased to co-publish this story with the California Health Report, a statewide nonprofit news service that covers health and health policy. David Washburn is a San Diego-based journalist who has worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Voice of San Diego and Dateline NBC. In recent years, he’s focused on issues related to juvenile justice and school discipline. He welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Stopping School Shootings: Is Colorado’s ‘Safe2Tell’ Hotline A Solution?

The state’s program has stopped bomb threats, suicides, murders, and prevented people from getting continuously bullied or threatened. It isn’t perfect, but it has saved lives and even won support from the ACLU, writes a former LAPD commander.

In the days after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, that left 17 people dead, it has become clear that the massacre might have been prevented if each tip authorities received was taken seriously so that trained personnel could take appropriate action in response to credible information.

We now know that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office received at least 18 calls about troubled teen and shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz over the past decade. Records of calls about Cruz to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office reveal that in February 2016, neighbors contacted the sheriff’s department to say they feared Cruz “planned to shoot up the school” after posing for Instagram photos with firearms.

The FBI admits it received a Jan. 5 tip-line warning about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social-media posts, as well as references to carrying out a school shooting — but failed to share the info with its Miami field office.

Sadly, not all rumors of school shootings are reported or, as we now know, acted upon appropriately. Research shows that in 81 percent of violent incidents in US schools, someone other than the attacker knew something about the shooter’s plans but failed to report what he or she knew.

After the April 20, 1999, mass shooting at the Columbine High School in Jefferson County, CO, then recently elected Gov. Bill Owens convened a commission to analyze the circumstances of the shooting and to make recommendations that could prevent future incidents. The Columbine Review Commission criticized law enforcement officers for not heeding significant and telling information about shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The bloodshed could have been averted, the report concluded, if experts had intervened.

One of the most important findings of the commission was that there was a “prevailing culture” of a “code of silence” among students who may have been aware of the impending threat of attack. In the Columbine incident, the attackers posted threats and expressed their thoughts on websites in what researchers termed “leakage.”

The commission recommended that a statewide hotline be created where anyone could safely report threats. In response, the State of Colorado developed a statewide, uniform, cohesive, and coordinated program called Safe2Tell.

Enacted in 2004, Safe2Tell is a hotline for students, teachers and parents to make anonymous tips about threats of school violence, suicide, bullying, and more.

Colorado’s Safe2Tell takes reports made by calling a designated number, filling out a form online, or through a special app. The Colorado State Patrol receives each report, and then passes it along to local law enforcement, the school in question, and the relevant school district.

The Safe2Tell program has emerged as a key resource to keeping Colorado students safe. So why hasn’t the successful program that allows anyone to anonymously report threats, violence, and other potentially dangerous situations been adopted in other states?

As the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs recently noted, in most states there is no uniform method for alerting authorities of school threats. In many communities, where school police departments exist, it may not be clear to most people if they should report a threat to the school police, the local police department, or the FBI because there is no centralized place to report threats, and no centralized system of follow-up and accountability.

Recently a school resource officer at El Camino High School in Whittier, CA, heard a student make verbal threats that he was, “going to shoot up the school sometime in the next three weeks.” After law enforcement obtained a search warrant, a search of the student’s bedroom revealed that he had more than enough weapons and ammunition to make good on his threat. Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that deputies seized two AR-15 rifles, 90 ammunition magazines and two handguns, including one assault rifle that was unregistered.

Last year, high school students in Fullerton, CA were arrested for plotting a school shooting that would be “bigger than Columbine.” Fortunately, someone who knew of the plot alerted a school resource officer of the planned attack.

In those two cases a possible tragedy was averted. But in 2008, when 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot and killed 15-year-old Larry King in the computer lab of the boys’ English class in a Ventura County (California) middle school, those who might have known of McInerney’s rising shame and rage, did not report it. Perhaps if a system such as Safe2Tell had existed, one boy would not have died, and a second boy would not have been sentenced to 21 years in a California state prison.

Safe2Tell ensures that every student, parent, teacher and community member has a way to discreetly report any concerns about their safety or the safety of others. In Colorado, Safe2Tell received 9,163 reports of planned school attacks during the 2016/17 school year. The data from January 2018 shows that suicide threats were the number one report (238) that month compared to 55 reports of planned school attacks.

The system that has stopped bomb threats, suicides, murders, and prevented people from getting continuously bullied or threatened, is not perfect. A number of false reports have been made because someone didn’t like someone else.

However, the anonymous online, telephone, and text message system continues to save lives and has even won the support of the ACLU, which tried to expand the program to Mississippi.

While not every report is credible, the program has assisted in preventing hundreds of threatened school attacks, helped to prevent thousands of possible youth suicides, along with causing expert interventions in cases of bullying, sexual misconduct/sexual assault, and other dangerous or harmful situations.

In short, Safe2Tell has been effective in creating safer schools and safer communities.

With a small dedicated, well trained staff, Safe2Tell manages intelligence gathering and sharing of information through a sophisticated dissemination process from the state level to the appropriate responders at the local level. In the case of a threat of a school shooting, the centralized program makes certain that the appropriate responders are notified and that they track and coordinate the intervention at the school level, ensuring that law enforcement coordination problems are reduced.

To spread the Safe2Tell message, Colorado created a Train the Trainer program that certifies individuals to present Safe2Tell classroom discussion materials in schools, to promote the program’s effective use. Would it work in larger states? In California, for example, such a program would require more staff.

Colorado’s Safe2Tell is run by the Attorney General’s office and has an annual budget of about $300,000. Enacting innovative and thoughtful programs like Safe2Tell in larger states would clearly cost more as well.

But given the potential benefits, bringing Safe2Tell or something like it to California and other states around the country should be a bipartisan goal of every state legislature.

Richard Webb

Richard Webb

With the annual costs associated with youth violence exceeding $161 billion in the US, it would be money well spent.

This is a slightly edited version of an article published by the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys, and reprinted with permission. Richard Webb retired as a commander in the LAPD after 35 years of service. While at the LAPD, he helped develop the multiple location active response protocol for the department. Webb has a Master’s from American Military University, where his thesis was on school shootings. He welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Cops Weigh Chance of Conviction Before Arresting Rape Suspects: Study

Less than half the rape suspects reported to police end in an arrest, two researchers found in a study of cases investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department and the LA County Sheriff’s Department during 2008. Detectives told the researchers they made arrest decisions based on perceptions about whether the suspect could be successfully prosecuted.

Police officers’ perceptions about the chances of a rape suspect being convicted can determine whether they actually make an arrest, concluded a California study which found that less than half the rape cases reported to law enforcement ended in an arrest.

The study, published in the Justice Quarterly this month, attributed the low number of arrests to police officers’ belief that a conviction was unlikely.

“Police officers view the decision to arrest as the first step in the process of securing a conviction in the case,” the study said. “And as a result (police) are reluctant to make arrests that are unlikely to lead to the filing of charges.”

The researchers, Cassia Spohn, a foundation professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University; and Katharine Tellis, Interim Director of the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at California State University, analyzed data on sexual assaults reported to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 2008.

They found that only 46.8 percent of rape cases reported ended in an arrest.

According to the authors, arresting and charging decisions in sexual assault cases are affected by “legally irrelevant indicators” such as the victim’s behavior at the time of the incident, her character, reputation, and motivation for reporting the crime to the police.

But under the Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, law enforcement agencies can legally drop cases after an arrest. If the district attorney deems the evidence in the case insufficient to justify charging, police officers are able to end the investigation by “exceptional means,” the study said.

“This is what more typically happens,” added the study.

The authors argued that law enforcement in Los Angeles misused the “exceptional means” clearance of sexual assault cases in two important situations: when an arrest does not lead to the filing of felony charges, and when cases are rejected for prosecution during the pre-arrest charge evaluation.

“Whether a subject is arrested should not be contingent on whether the prosecuting attorney believes that the evidence meets the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and that the case would result in jury conviction,” the study said.

Doing so subjects the decision to arrest to a higher standard of proof than is required by law and effectively gives the prosecutor control over the decision to arrest, the authors noted.

When sexual assault charges did reach the district attorney, they were only filed six percent of the time if there was not a prior arrest, the study found.

But when there was a prior arrest, cases were filed 50 percent of the time.

Detectives acknowledged during interviews that their decisions on making an arrest were influenced by signals from the District Attorney’s office of whether a successful prosecution could be brought.

The study said this suggested that pre-arrest charge evaluation is being used not to ensure that “all of the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, but to dispose of weak or problematic cases.”

The study also found that arrest was more likely if the crime was more serious, as measured by whether the suspect physically, as well as sexually, assaulted the victim, whether the suspect used a weapon, and whether the victim suffered some type of collateral injury.

Police were more likely to arrest the suspect if the victim reported the crime within one hour, if there was physical evidence from a crime scene, and if there were a number of witnesses, the report said.

A full copy of the study can be downloaded here.

This summary was prepared by TCR staffer Megan Hadley. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The LAPD’s Charlie Beck: A Chief for a Transformed City

As Beck prepares to retire after eight years, he leaves behind a police agency that has dramatically changed its image as an “occupying force” in the city’s black and brown neighborhoods, and become a national model for police reform, writes the author of two books about the LAPD.

Last Friday, Charlie Beck, the chief of the Los Angeles Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) called a press conference to announce his retirement after leading the department for eight years—forgoing the final two years of his contract in the process, and surprising almost everyone.

“One of the secrets of Bull Riding,” he said about his early departure, “is knowing when to get off the bull.” (He’ll continue to serve until June.)

And indeed the time was ripe for Beck, who’s going out on top.

A 40-year LAPD veteran, the 64-year-old Beck has taken the LAPD a long way down the road to the true cultural transformation of a department vilified world-wide for the televised beating of Rodney King, and the igniting two of the bloodiest riots/rebellions of the 20th Century.

Named chief in 2009, the tall, swarthy Beck brought to the dance a fierce determination to prevail, a quiet, mature professionalism that never called attention to himself, strong interpersonal skills and a willingness to work across lines and with critics, a sense of proportion and understanding of the possible, and superior big-picture observational intelligence and problem-solving skills. Much of which are now reflected in the department he was instrumental in philosophy and fundamentally reshaping, training and rebranding.

Equally important: he was a man of his time, a chief for his era in a Los Angeles undergoing dramatic change.

The son of a former LAPD assistant chief, Beck’s sister had also been an LAPD detective, his wife a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff and both his daughter and son are currently LAPD officers.

But despite what could have been a closed-circle life and career, Beck had both the instinct and insight to recognize the progressive winds of change blowing out of the New L.A. The city is now a multicultural sea of blacks, whites, Chicanos, Asians, and college-educated transplants from around the country and the world, living together with the first and second-generation sons and daughters of over a million immigrants from Latin America, East Asia and the Middle East who had begun arriving in the 1970s.

This recognition, along with the 1992 riots, and a streak of intuitive decency enabled Beck to go beyond the usual cop prejudiced and cynicism to really see his city, and to sense how they wanted to be policed, and what didn’t want.: A trigger-happy LAPD that took great pride in being arrogant and pugnacious; and reveled in shaking down and humiliating people color of as its sole modus operandi.

And like his mentor and predecessor as chief, Bill Bratton, Beck also understood that you’d never get a fair press if you hated the press and always showed it, could abide no criticism, and operated as if the department was unaccountable—which it then very often was.

So when Bratton—the ground-breaking, mid-1990s, media savvy reformer of the New York Police Department—was named chief in 2002, then-Capt. Charlie Beck listened closely, especially when Bratton forcefully told his commanders what he would demand from them: Innovation and creativity in reducing crime, and far, far better relations with the public, particularly those in the city’s black and brown communities.

Astutely, Beck then became among the first to seriously implement Beck’s priorities, and to and reap the rewards.

In little more than five years under Bratton, he would rise from field Captain to Chief of South Bureau, which covered 650,000 black and brown residents. There he showed his true reformist colors by meeting with ex-gang members who were trying to halt gang wars. First he acknowledged he would need their help in stopping the slaughter, and then worked with them to help establish a certificated gang intervention program for ex-gangsters called the Urban Peace Academy—a community policing outreach initiative that that is still successfully operating a generation later.

By the time Bratton resigned in 2009, Beck had become the chosen one to succeed him.

Walking a Beat in Watts

On his first full day as chief, Beck announced his intentions by walking a beat in Watts’ Jordan Downs housing project, the epicenter of the 1965 Watts’ Riots and home of the Grape Street Crips, one of the most fearsome gangs in South L.A. There he greeted residents, shaking hands with people who despised the LAPD, while arranging basketball games between his cops against neighborhood teams—a few of which he actually played in.

Soon he formed special units to work in Jordan Downs and other high-crime housing projects in an innovative community-policing program called Community Safety Partnership Police.

The unit’s cops, all volunteers who had also trained at the Urban Police Academy, were committed to working in a particular housing project for five years. They would be judged not by arrest numbers (which had long been the LAPD’s gauge of success) but by how effectively they strengthened and stabilized each of the housing projects; and kept crime and violence low through gaining the community’s trust, partnership, and support; while working with the projects’ kids and families to keep them out of the crushing jaws of California’s notorious criminal justice system.

Like the department’s other community outreach programs none of these efforts were any panacea. They started at the height of the Great Recession when money was extremely tight; required an intense investment in scarce manpower, and remain hard to replicate in a city that sprawls over 450 miles. But they still exist, within the department’s wider philosophical context.

In addition, Beck began forging ties with the city’s Latinos and other immigrant communities, lobbying for driver’s licenses for undocumented residents and stopping impounding cars driven by those license-less immigrants, saving them hundreds or thousands of dollars in towing and impoundment fees in the process.

Meanwhile, following a national trend, the number of homicides in the city began to significantly decrease on his watch, as did officer-involved shootings. Still the latter remained disproportionally high compared to New York and other cities; and a number of them seemed so avoidable that the public became outraged.

This became a real issue in his second term.

Body Cameras for All

In response, Beck worked with a liberal police commission and assisted in getting by-in from the department’s conservative union to equip every officer with body cameras, and to change the department’s previously broadly-defined shooting policy, to one that now emphasizes the de-escalation of potentially deadly situations, and use of smart tactics to avoid situations where an officer places himself in harm’s way and feels he has no alternative but to shot someone.

I don’t mean to paint an idyllic picture of either Beck or the current LAPD. Big city policing in the unjust society we live in is often a dirty business. It is what it is. But now that bad policing has become widely recognized since the 2014 police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, good policing and police leadership has to be summarily recognized.

It’s heartening now to live in a city whose police department that sincerely has as its goal becoming L.A.’s “guardians” and helping to strengthen communities of as opposed to rolling through them like an occupying force and arresting everybody in sight.

And it’s nice to view the front page of the Los Angeles Times and not daily see outrage after outrage committed by the LAPD, or the face of a chief of police throwing a tantrum or picking a fight.

And that’s why LA is now celebrating Charlie Beck.

He’s been a respected national leader in supporting progressive police and criminal justice reform. In 2016, Beck went to the White House with 130 other law enforcement leaders to meet with President Barack Obama. The topic was the future of criminal justice, and it was Beck who was chosen to speak with the president on the group’s behalf.

And he was the first big police leader to publicly state that his police department would not be cooperating with Donald Trump’s immigration officers in rounding up undocumented workers and students and breaking up families.

True, transformative cultural reform is a process many police critics fail to understand. It takes a generation, maybe longer, of sustained, unremittingly determined leadership

All have been hallmarks of Beck’s and Bratton’s leadership in Los Angeles.

They’ve not only been steps in the right direction, but also rare, hopeful advances in the world of criminal justice, where progressive reform moves at a snail’s pace and mean justice takes place overnight.

Beck would signal the best of his intentions. At the same time the LAPD’s gang-injunction policing would continue unabated under Beck. According to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, as of 2015 there were “more than forty-six permanent gang injunctions in place in the city of Los Angeles.”

Joe Domanick

Joe Domanick

Many people and factors have contributed the LAPD’s transformation, but it’s hard to underestimate Beck’s role.

Joe Domanick, Associate Director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, and West Coast bureau chief of The Crime Report, is the author of two books on the LAPD. His first, “To Protect and to Serve,” was published in 1994.His latest book, “Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing,” is now out in paperback. Joe welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org