A couple of days before Debra Figone finalized her selection of Chris Moore as the city’s next chief of police, councilman Sam Liccardo referred to the candidates’ race as “the elephant in the room”—Moore, acting chief for the last three months, is white while the other finalist, Oakland Chief of Police Anthony Batts, is black. The real “elephant in the room,” though, was an inflammatory online report by a small newspaper in Long Beach.
Jay Beeler, editor of The Beachcomber, wrote a piece that alleged Long Beach police had been called to Batts’ residence on four occasions for complaints of domestic violence against his then-wife, U.S. Rep.Laura Richardson. When contacted to confirm the report, Beeler said he had no further comment and would stick by his story, but had no documentation or sources on the record regarding the alleged abuse.
No other media outlet has printed the allegation, most likely because some vetting showed Beeler may have had an ax to grind—he was once placed into custody by police for going into a restricted crime scene. But commenters on nearly every website documenting San Jose’s police chief search did broach the subject.
It’s possible that Figone, trying to restore balance to a police department already suffering from low morale, had an easier decision to make considering that Moore’s record had no blemishes, real or contrived.