Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is under fire from the city’s five-member civilian Police Commission, which is troubled by his reluctance to punish officers who are found to have killed or wounded people unjustifiably, reports the L.A. Times. A lack of punishment “could undermine the entire discipline system and undermine the authority of the commission,” said member Robert Saltzman, associate dean at USC law school. Since he became chief in 2009, Beck has concluded that officers used force appropriately in almost all of the 90 incidents involving officers who fired weapons or used other deadly force.
In four shootings, the commission went against the chief’s recommendations and ruled the officers’ use of lethal force was inappropriate. But Beck either refused to impose any punishment on the officers or gave them only a written reprimand. The chief’s apparent unwillingness to suspend or demote officers, or to initiate the process to fire them, in these types of cases has worried a majority of the commission. “Sometimes the chief just needs to set a tone and, through his actions, send a message about what kind of conduct is acceptable,” said commission President Richard Drooyan, an attorney.