What was the LAPD Rampart Division scandal

It is not the magnificent mustache that strikes you particularly when Charlie Beck steps in front of the cameras, it is rather those sad eyes with the many wrinkles around them. They suggest that the head of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has experienced a lot of unpleasant things in his 38 years as a police officer.

The riots in 1992, for example, when all hell broke loose in the city; or the Rampart scandal six years later, in which a special unit turned out to be a corrupt, trigger-happy bunch and was only cleaned up and rehabilitated under Beck's direction; or the death of an unarmed homeless man in May this year, shot by an LAPD police officer.

Beck comes from a police family

Beck had to explain another difficult situation on Tuesday. This time it was about why the more than 1,000 schools in the Los Angeles district had been closed after a terror threat and nearly 700,000 students had been sent home. There had been a similar threat in New York, apparently from the same sender, but schools there remained open. The police chief of New York, William Bratton, accused his colleague Beck of overreacting and unnecessarily fueling the fear of the citizens.

Charlie Beck, 63, comes from a family of police officers: his father, sister and wife were members of the LAPD, and two of his children and his son-in-law are now police officers. Beck has been in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department for six years, at the beginning he was considered a heroic reformer and was valued by his colleagues because of his experience and popular with the citizens because of his ideas. For example, he got some police officers to wear cameras on their uniforms to document their behavior.

He doesn't crack down on them, nor does he defend colleagues

In recent years, however, Beck increasingly realized that working as head of the LAPD is tantamount to putting all the tentacles of an octopus into a shopping net. And it is precisely with this delicate balance in dealing with subordinates, politicians and citizens that Beck often finds it difficult.

In the event of controversies about the behavior of police officers, he neither cracks down nor defends his colleagues, and when it came to the controversial purchase of a horse for his daughter's unit last year, he avoided making a clear statement as well as doing research by Los Angeles Times a few months ago, according to which numerous statistics from the LAPD are inaccurate and lead to incorrect conclusions.

Beck acted similarly on Tuesday: He defended the decision he had advised the head of the school district on - but admitted in the next sentence that it could have been wrong. This is exactly why he was attacked so harshly by Bratton - by the way Beck's predecessor as Police Chief of Los Angeles. When Beck heard about his colleague's criticism at the press conference, his eyes looked a little sadder.