So more than 40 people were arrested following the Lakers championship victory over the Boston Celtics Thursday. A taxi was set ablaze. A Lamborghini was violated. A few people got beat up. A bicyclist was hit by a police cruiser. A few law enforcement officers were hurt by debris thrown at them. Bad night. But not that bad. And here's the thing: It could have been a lot worse if police weren't as prepared, staffed and organized as they were. Score one for Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. As you can imagine, it hasn't been a smooth ride since he took over the top-cop's position in November:
The city's homicide rate is up after Chief Bill Bratton's tenure from 2002 to 2009 saw historic lows in crime across-the-board. Some employees have been acting up. A detective was charged with embezzling cash from the department and a cop was arrested on suspicion of selling meth. Four officers were put on desk duty last month after one alleged threw a kick at a bicyclist and two or more were accused of tackling a man who videotaped the incident on his iPhone. During Beck's tenure two officers died in suspected DUI accidents. Some cops shook their heads when Beck announced that he was opposed to Arizona's controversial immigration law. And just this week the police union lambasted LAPD leadership for withdrawing its request to send four officers to Tucson for training despite the city's boycott of Arizona over its controversial immigration law.
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But Thursday night Beck came through with flying colors. Nobody was unnecessarily stomped (that we know of). Journalists were not trampled as officers cleared the area near Staples Center. Hooliganism was contained. Bonfires were put out. The cops were orderly and mechanistic. As they were taking rocks and bottles, officers even reportedly radioed for permission to use their less-than-lethal weapons against the rabble-rousers. It certainly wasn't half as bad as Lakers riots in years past.