LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The LAPD last year saw an increase in deadly officer-involved shootings that sparked a procedural change within the department.
Chief Charlie Beck implemented a program that would encourage de-escalation tactics. Those de-escalation policies have caused some controversy among police rank and file.
Beck sat down with CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey to talk about what he calls “the reverence for human life.”
It is a story that is Only On 2.
With what almost appears to be a daily officer-involved shooting in America, and often involving white officers and men of color on the receiving end, Beck knows there is scrutiny and controversy facing police departments all over the country.
“I see people who say, ‘Well, that’s not a good person. That’s a police officer.’ And how wrong is that?” Beck asked.
The chief sat down with Harvey to talk specifically about the LAPD, police shootings and what steps the department has taken to avoid violent encounters.
“I try to talk empathy all the time with my officers. You have to understand where people come from. You have to understand that their experiences are different than yours and that may affect the way they see things,” Beck said.
Those differences have the chief and the LAPD rethinking how they police.
“Literally, a Los Angeles police officer, those two men or women in that car, have the power to take away your life, liberty and property in ways that nobody, not even the president of the United States has. And that has to be tempered by responsibility. And that has to be tempered by oversight, and that’s my job,” Beck says.
The chief is holding his officers accountable. He recently recommended criminal charges be filed against an officer for the May 2015 shooting death in Venice of Brendon Glenn, a homeless man.
“When I see things that aren’t right, when the officers acted inappropriately, then I take the right action,” Beck says.
But, more often than not, he has stood by officers involved in high-profile shooting cases.
Beck has his critics, chief among them Black Lives Matter. They have called on Beck to resign.
Los Angeles hasn’t seen the types of widespread protests that occurred in the aftermath of shootings in Ferguson, Mo., or Monday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Beck believes that de-escalation is partly the reason.
“It was in response of not only what was going in Los Angeles but was going on nationally,” Beck explains. “We wanted to do a reset.”
Harvey asked Beck how officers feel about this change. He answers the question by changing the question.
“If somebody doesn’t believe in the reverence for human life, then I don’t want them to be a Los Angeles police officer,” Beck says.
Harvey also reports the chief has implemented a new program where LAPD officers visit the families involved in shootings.
The chief readily admits some in the department don’t think that’s a good idea. But he believes the program bridges a divide among officers, the community and the families they affect.