LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Langer’s Deli in MacArthur Park: It’s a true Los Angeles landmark and home of the legendary No. 19 pastrami sandwich.
But on one September afternoon, there’s a palpable buzz as CBS2’s Pat Harvey and other customers await a Langer’s regular: Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck.
Candid, off the cuff and clearly relaxed, this is Chief Beck a la “Blue Bloods”-style.
When asked if he’s a fan of the CBS drama, Beck replies, “Of course I watch the show.”
“Now did they consult you?” Harvey asked.
“No,” said Beck.
Beck and many others believe his real life was the basis for the hit CBS show.
“A lot of people say you look like Tom Selleck,” Harvey noted. “Or maybe Tom Selleck looks like you?”
“No, he’s older than me, so I look like him,” said Beck.
But it’s not just the physical similarities that perhaps led Hollywood producers to look at Beck.
WEB EXTRA BELOW: Beck discusses the use of body cameras by police officers.
“There was a picture that was running in People magazine with my son, my daughter, and myself walking in uniform on the academy field, and I think that’s what the writers and producers saw,” he said.
Call it art imitating life.
Beck’s wife Cindy: a retired L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy. His sister Meghan: a retired LAPD detective. Daughter Brandi and son Martin: both LAPD officers. Beck’s youngest daughter, Meghan: an L.A. county sheriff’s deputy.
And the patriarch of this police dynasty: his father George, who retired from the force in 1980 at the rank of deputy chief.
Harvey pointed to one photo of Beck and his father.
“That is when he was captain of West Bureau,” said Beck. “And I can tell by the pin I was working gangs in South L.A. You know, I have nothing but respect and affection for my dad and the picture reflects that.”
Another photo showed his mother, Elma Beck, the matriarch of this law enforcement family, who was married to his father 61 years before her death in 2010, just one year after he was sworn in as L.A.’s 56th police chief.
“My mother, father, grandma and grandpa had a huge influence on my kids,” he said.
Martin, Chief Beck’s 30-year-old son, is an officer with seven years on the force.
“You were chief when he graduated from the academy. What was that like?” Harvey asked.
“It was huge; it was huge. That was very emotional,” said Beck. “Seeing him graduate, it was a very proud moment, and I felt the same way about both my daughters when they graduated.”
While Beck says his children work hard and try to keep a low profile, he admits that’s not always easy.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them because they are legacy kids,” he said. “They all feel the burden of everybody watching them.”
All eyes were on the Beck family in 2014 after the chief signed off on a $6,000 purchase of a horse that was to be used by LAPD’s Mounted Patrol. The problem, however, was the horse was owned by his oldest daughter, Brandi.
“Brandi sold it to the department, and it’s not any of her fault,” Beck said. “It’s on me, you know, but I don’t feel guilty about it; the department got a great horse.”
But Beck’s not only a father who’s fiercely protective of his family. He’s also loyal to those he calls friends, according to Langer’s Deli owner Norm Langer, who says his friendship with the chief began years ago when Beck was appointed captain of LAPD’s Rampart Division.
“If Charlie says something, you know it comes from the heart,” said Langer. “I think the most important thing that people don’t know is the sense of person he is. He’s a solid individual. He’s not. He’s a mess. An emotional mess.”
“I’m a grandfather,” Beck adds.
Son, father and, yes, grandpa. At this point in his career, the chief knows he now has more days behind him than ahead. He hopes when he retires in November 2019 that his children will carry on the family legacy.
“I want it to be a police department that they are proud to be a part of and that this city’s proud of,” said Beck.