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Los Angeles mayor picks new police chief

By Alan Duke, CNN
Deputy Chief Charles Beck, 56, center, has been named to replace William Bratton as Los Angeles police chief.
Deputy Chief Charles Beck, 56, center, has been named to replace William Bratton as Los Angeles police chief.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Law enforcement is family tradition for Charlie Beck, police veteran of 30-plus years
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa picks Beck to be next police chief
  • William Bratton stepped down as police chief after department overhaul
  • Villaraigosa says Bratton left Los Angeles a stronger, safer city
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Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, a 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, has been chosen to replace Chief William Bratton, the Los Angeles mayor's office said Tuesday.

Beck, who is chief of detectives, is seen as a "progressive reformer" who has spent much of his career working against gang violence, according to the announcement from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Bratton assigned Beck to clean up the troubled Rampart Division when he became chief of the department in 2002.

Beck, 56, joined the Los Angeles police in 1977, and his early assignments included being a patrol officer in the Rampart area and being part of the department's anti-gang CRASH Unit, or Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums.

Bratton's resignation -- to take a job training police in developing nations -- was announced in August and became effective Saturday.

Bratton, who also was the top police official in New York and in his native Boston, Massachusetts, imposed a sweeping overhaul of his scandal-battered department after taking office. The department was under federal oversight, reeling from a major corruption investigation and with a long-standing reputation for brutality toward minorities.

Villaraigosa said Bratton has left behind a department "no longer bound by the misdeeds of the past."

"Because of him, Los Angeles is the safest it's been in more than half a century," the mayor said. "He's leaving Los Angeles a stronger city, a more united city, a safer city."

Bratton's tenure was not entirely without controversy.

Police came under harsh criticism for their chaotic breakup of a May 2007 immigration reform rally when officers attacked demonstrators and journalists. An investigation blamed a "command and control breakdown" on the part of senior officers, resulting in the demotion of a division commander and the reassignment of his second in command.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League -- which represents Los Angeles officers -- welcomed Beck's selection, citing his "deep roots" in law enforcement.

Law enforcement is a family tradition for Beck. His father, George Beck, was a Los Angeles deputy police chief when he retired in 1980. His daughter, Brandi Scimone, is a Hollywood Area patrol officer. His wife, Cindy Beck, retired as a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His son, Martin Beck, is set to graduate next month from the Los Angeles Police Academy.

Beck, a Long Beach, California native, is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach.