A decade ago, Charlie Beck watched as William Bratton arrived in Los Angeles and began rebuilding a police department deeply tarnished by the Rodney King beating, riots, and corruption scandals. Beck was particularly taken by his aggressive effort to rebuild the broken police relationship with the African American community, which over and over Bratton said was a cornerstone to his success, reports the Los Angeles Times. Beck carried the lesson with him when he replaced Bratton three years ago as chief of the nation’s second-largest police force.
With nearly half of the city’s population Hispanic and the federal government’s aggressive efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants sowing fear in immigrant communities, Beck believed that his success or failure as chief rested heavily on whether he could replicate Bratton’s success, this time with Latinos. His actions have made him a lightning rod for criticism, even from some of his own officers. They also established Beck as a forceful national voice for a more restrained approach to illegal immigration, a high-profile counterpoint to hard-liners like Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.