Now that the formality of naming Charlie Beck as Chief of Police is over, the Times tells us it was always a done deal, that Bill Bratton lobbied hard for months for his favorite son and it was only at the last minute that the mayor actually gave it any thought.
After the fact disclosures of what was going on behind the scenes is amusing but does nothing to enlighten or enhance the public debate.
In fact, the debate, such as it was. was all in private and, in the end, made no difference whatsoever.
The mayor whose sole actual achievement — as opposed to greening LA, fixing the schools and building the subway to the sea which won’t come to fruition for years — is reducing crime. Of course, the real credit for that goes to Bratton.
With his public standing so low he can’t run for governor, was the mayor really going to take the risk of choosing his own chief instead of Bratton’s?
Joel Rubin in the Times tells us the mayor actually paid attention to the question over the weekend after the Police Commission had recommended Michel Moore, Jim McDonnell ahead of Beck.
Moore, the Valley chief, is smart, studied hard in Bratton’s school of police and hard-working to the point his subordinates call him Micro-Mike. He was the star of the auditions and his performance appear to have forced the mayor into the uncomfortable position of thinking about his choice rather than just doing what Bratton told him.
McDonnell, the LAPD’s No. 2 cop, has the most experience, actually was running the department during Bratton’s many absences and was far and away the most popular choice with the public and police.
But it was always Beck’s job because he was Bratton’s choice.
“I was certain Bratton’s endorsement would be crucial. But he went too far. He became an albatross,” someone closely involved in the selection process told the Times.
Really, Bratton went too far? Hard to believe since he went as far as he wanted whenever he wanted for the last seven years.
The real question now is who’s chief is he? Bratton’s? The mayor’s? The LAPD’s?
Beck has a tough act to follow.
Bratton was untouchable. He honed his skills in the big leagues of
New York and Boston where the politicians, the press and the public
play hardball, not softball like in LA.
He jumped in front of
controversies like the May Day rally and kept them under control. He
treated the City Council as if it were irrelevant while flattering the
egos of individual members. He learned from his mistakes with Giuliani
and always made sure Villaraigosa stood in the foreground of pictures.
Most of all, he oversaw a dramatic drop in crime.
But crime goes up and crime goes down just like the stock market and for reasons that are not always clear.
good reason to believe crime in LA is about as low as it can get given
the soaring poverty and unemployment rates, given the fact LA is still
the nation’s gang capital.
That was the heart of the mayor’s
dilemma. How could he duck responsibility If crime started going up
because Moore and his proposals for innovation didn’t work out or
because McDonnell proved to be not tough enough?
Beck, the commission’s third choice, was the safe choice, Bratton’s choice.
questions the new chief will have to answer soon enough is whether he
can pull together a leadership team that gives him credibility within
the LAPD, whether he can fend off being politicized by the mayor and
the council like nearly every other city department head and whether he
can stand up to a level of scrutiny that Bratton never faced.
asking a lot of a guy with limited command experience who was
fast-tracked up the ranks by Bratton, the toughest in LA, just ask
Gates, Williams and Parks.