LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says he was “mistaken” in his initial comments denying involvement in the sale of his daughter’s horse to the department.
Beck came under fire after a memo released Wednesday appeared to contradict his previous comments that the $6,000 sale of the animal, owned by his daughter, LAPD officer Brandi Scimone, “steered around” him.
The document (PDF) from the L.A. Police Commission obtained by CBS2/KCAL9 shows Beck signed a grant request from the commanding officer in charge of the LAPD’s Mounted Platoon for the purchase.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Beck said he realizes now he should have been more transparent about his relationship with the owner of the horse.
“Yesterday, I stated that the paperwork for the donation of a horse originally owned by my daughter, LAPD Officer Brandi Scimone, and purchased with private funds ‘steered completely around me.’ Since that time, I reviewed the file and realized that I had signed the LA Police Foundation’s Grant Request after the donation had been evaluated and approved by the Office of Special Operations and had also signed the Intradepartmental Correspondence to the Board of Police Commissioners to approve of the donation. Therefore, I now realize that my comments were mistaken,” Beck stated.
“After evaluating the circumstances of this donation, in retrospect, I should have ensured that the Department had formally transmitted to the Commission the additional documentation on file which identified the original owner of the horse. I will continue to work with the Commission to increase the Department’s transparency.”
L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said he was “satisfied the commission will have sufficient disclosure going forward” based on Beck’s statement.
“After reviewing the information provided to date by the Department, the Inspector General, and Chief Beck, I am comfortable that the Chief was not involved in the selection, evaluation or purchase of the horse (by the LAPD Foundation) that was previously owned by Chief Beck’s daughter, LAPD Officer Brandi Scimone, and that he did not influence any decision to accept the donation by the Department,” Soboroff added.
The comments follow just hours after Beck came under fire when the memo addressed to him from Capt. Patrick Smith, dated March 14, 2014, emerged in a report by The Los Angeles Times.
The document explains the animal’s qualifications for service on the LAPD, and that the cost of the horse would be covered by a private donor, but identifies the seller only as “a department employee assigned to the Mounted Platoon,” rather than by name.
LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore earlier told KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta Beck had nothing to do with working out the details of the transaction.
“He had no involvement in seeking that horse, in finding it, evaluating it. He gave no feedback as to the merits of the horse,” Moore said, calling the chief’s signature a formality.
Beck was left explaining why, then, he told reporters he was not involved in the decision process.
“That paperwork steered completely around me, so I didn’t have much control over it, ’cause I made sure that it did,” Beck said. “I kept it in Chief Moore’s shop; Chief Moore’s the one who has control over the equestrian unit. I kept all those decisions in his shop.”
Earlier this week, Soboroff said he had yet to hear any evidence that would prevent Beck from serving as LAPD chief for another five-year term.
Soboroff earlier told KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman he wanted to hear from Beck as to why his initial public comments appeared to be at odds with the documents.
“There should be an explanation of the difference in the statements, because this document that came out, whether he knew he signed it or didn’t sign it, conflicts with what was said,” Soboroff said. “I think that the answer to the question should be a direct response and a direct answer.”
“Along the way it should have been disclosed,” he added. “The chief should have recused himself. The issue is anytime there’s a perceived conflict it needs to be brought out and that’s what we do and that’s what they didn’t do.”
The commission has a closed-door session scheduled Tuesday with Beck to vote on whether to give him another five-year term as police chief.
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