Back in the spring, LAPD Chief Bill Bratton took Chief of Detectives Charlie Beck with him on a trip halfway around the world to check out what he wants as the next generation of patrol car: The Australian-made Holden Commodore.
Beck, now a near certainty to be named Bratton’s successor on Monday, has been the point man in pushing the Commodore as the replacement for the US-made Ford Crown Victoria that has been that standard police vehicle for years.
It’s a curious case why the head of detectives would be in charge of steering this deal while the motor transport experts within the LAPD would be left out in the cold, not even given the chance to test the car’s performance.
Yet, the Commodore was put on display Saturday at the grand opening of the LAPD’s lavish but unnamed new Police Headquarters (although it was moved to the back of the building instead of being part of the ceremonies despite Bratton’s wishes).
So at 11 a.m. today, the chief will formally unveil the foreign-made car of his choice – a strange choice indeed when America’s car industry has collapsed even though Holden, based in Melbourne, is owned by GM.
Back in March, the Commodore with LAPD decals on it created a stir at the Australian auto show in Sydney with rampant speculation that a deal with LAPD would legitimize the car for police uses and lead to exports of as many as 40,000 vehicles a year to US law enforcement agencies.
Beck’s role in the car deal, his appearances in place of the chief at budget hearings and Bratton’s favoritism toward him has made it clear to nearly everyone involved that he will get the chief’s job on Monday over lesser Bratton favorites Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Valley Deputy Chief Michel Moore.
LAPD insiders have watched in some amazement as Beck took over the
scandal-plagued Rampart Division and soared to the top of Bratton’s
small cadre of trustworthy commanders. They believe he represents the
chief’s best chance to retain a measure of influence over the
department after a seven-year run that represents the greatest success
of his career.
A dramatic reduction in violent crime, the end of
the federal consent decree, a new police headquarters, restoration of
the LAPD’s reputation – no one can deny, no one has even questioned,
This is Bratton’s LAPD, remade by his
vision from the day he came in as a highly-paid consultant to define
the terms of the consent decree to the day last summer he got it
Those who have worked with him think he will not give
up total control if he can help it and it’s doubtful that the mayor
will ignore his choice for chief despite having nothing to boast about l politically
besides the LAPD success story.
operates in a tight little world of police experts nationally who
affect policy and even the choices of local police chiefs through a
group called the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) headed by John
Timoney, the embattled police chief in Miami.
was a last-minute candidate for the LAPD job, slipping in and out of
town without notice, perhaps for no other reason than to overshadow all
other outsiders and lend his weight behind favorite son Beck as the
commander best qualified to succeed Bratton.
The are people who
operate in an elite world, getting each other well-paid consultant jobs
as chiefs, consultants and, now in Bratton’s case, a post as head of
international operations for the global security firm Altegrity, headed
by Michael Cherkasky, who was the federal monitor on the consent decree.
Bratton’s resignation as chief caught everyone by surprise, even the mayor who was not given advance notice.
Back in the spring, Bratton called his command staff together and assured them he’d be around for years to come.
the LAPD lifers around him, he had jumped from job to job and wasn’t in
line for a handsome six-figure pension. He was under water in his Los
Feliz house and his investments were worth half what they were a year
earlier. Besides, the LAPD Chief and his celebrity wife lived large
unlike most cops.
At the same time, other forces were at work
that call into question whether Bratton was developing the option of
cashing in on his remarkable success.
Cherkasky had just taken
over the top position in Altegrity and was in discussion with Bratton’s
controversial prodigy, Savannah Chief Michael Berkow – the outsider
Bratton had brought to head internal affairs — about a top-level
position in LA as early as April, three months before Cherkasky’s
report helped end the consent decree.
No one in authority in
LAPD believes for a second that longtime friends Bratton and Cherkasky
weren’t at about the same time talking about the possibility of the
LAPD Chief joining the firm.
This is important because Cherkasky
recommended lifting the consent decree on the grounds the LAPD had
achieved substantial compliance, at the cost of hundreds of millions of
dollars that many thought could have been spent more wisely on beefing
up the Police Department or other dire needs of the city.
wonder what is really up and, most of all, whether Bratton’s choice of Beck, like his choice of the Australian police
car, is good for the LAPD and the city.