LOS ANGELES – Charlie Beck, a 33-year veteran credited with cleaning up the image of the scandal-plagued Rampart Division, has been appointed chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, The Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Beck to succeed William Bratton, according to a person in the mayor's office who spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement was scheduled later in the day.
Beck, 56, declined to comment.
If his appointment is ratified by the City Council, as expected, he would become the city's 55th police chief.
Beck began his LAPD career as a reserve officer in 1975 and rose through the ranks to become deputy chief three years ago. He currently is in charge of detectives.
He replaces William Bratton, the former Boston and New York police chief who is credited with decreasing crime and improving race relations during his seven-year tenure in Los Angeles. Bratton is leaving the department for a private consulting job, three years before the expiration of his second, five-year term.
Bratton had indicated he wanted an LAPD insider to replace him and all three finalists fit the bill: Beck, First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Deputy Chief Michel Moore.
Beck also could be expected to continue two of Bratton's priorities: community outreach and a crackdown on gangs. He spent much of his career working to reduce gang violence, according to a biography supplied by the mayor's office.
In 2003, Bratton appointed Beck captain of the Rampart Division, which was struggling with fallout from a 1999 scandal that uncovered corruption in its anti-gang unit.
Observers credited him with burnishing the division's image, in part by pushing community outreach efforts.
Beck's appointment was praised by the police officers union.
Beck is "a consummate professional" who is well-suited for the job, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber said in a statement. "We're confident that Chief Beck has the leadership skills to uphold the LAPD's position as one of the nation's premier law enforcement agencies."
Beck comes from a law enforcement family. His father, George Beck, is a retired deputy chief. His daughter, Brandi Scimone, is a patrol officer in the Hollywood area; his son, Martin, is in the Police Academy; and his wife, Cindy Beck is a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.
During Bratton's tenure, the LAPD hired more officers; got a new headquarters; enacted court-ordered reforms and saw the end of eight years of federal oversight, and at least partially healed a breach with the city's black community stemming from decades of perceived police racism.
The force has increased by more than 800 officers since 2002 to its highest-ever level of about 10,000.
However, Beck will face a challenge to maintain officer morale; the city's financial crisis means officers are facing a contract that offers no pay raises.