Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by John Schreiber.

The union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers lashed out at Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday, linking his policies to a surge in crime and calling for hearings at City Hall on his anti-crime strategies.

Los Angeles Police Protective League asked that the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee “immediately hold public hearings to determine the effectiveness of Chief Beck’s current crime reducing efforts and what he proposes to do to reduce the dramatic rise in crime,” according to the union.

Union officials said there are “dangerously low police patrol staffing levels that are endangering the residents, visitors, businesses and police officers in Los Angeles.”

The police union cited a 20.2 percent increase in violent crime and a 10.7 percent increase in property crime from 2014 to 2015.

Relations between the chief and the union were strained when he called last week for charges to be filed against LAPD Officer Clifford Proctor for the May 5 shooting death in Venice of an unarmed homeless man named Brendon Glenn.

“I don’t do this lightly and in the vast majority of the time, as you well know, I stand up for you, regardless of public opinion,” the chief told officers in a video. “But in this case, I had to call it like I saw it. I had to do the right thing.”

Police union officials accused the chief of flagging in the face of political and public pressure. The union’s Jaime McBride said that by making public his recommendation to charge Proctor, Beck engaged in “nothing short of political grandstanding” to curry favor with department critics.

Officers, he said, have “lost any and all confidence” in his ability to lead the LAPD.

“He would be delusional to believe otherwise,” McBride said in a statement last week.

Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, said he “fully supports” the union’s request that he hold a hearing.

He said he has heard complaints from officers who say they are “being run thin right now.”

“We have just as many officers right now in the police department as we did when we had the lowest crime a couple years ago and yet the crime is spiking,” he said. “The economy has improved, yet the crime is spiking.”

Englander said he plans to introduce a motion Friday calling for a special Public Safety Committee meeting on the issue. During the hearing, police union officials will be “at the table” with police department officials “to share problems, questions and suggestions moving forward to address this crime spike,” he said.

Englander said that while he believes deployment practices, initiatives and day-to-day department practices should be left up to the police chief, elected officials on the City Council have a responsibility to ask questions about them.

Englander said that like the LAPPL, he also has “deep concerns over the recent crime spikes and how the department may or may not be addressing those.”

“I certainly have a lot of questions … as we start going into next year’s budget,” which will include discussions about “how we’re going to deploy our limited resources toward law enforcement to make a better impact,” he said.

He noted that one of the current crime reduction strategies — moving 200 officers to a centralized Metro division so they can later be deployed to areas with the most crime — “doesn’t appear to have made a big impact” and there are questions about whether the practice could deplete patrol resources.

—City News Service

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