LOS ANGELES (CN) – Mayor Eric Garcetti selected Michel Moore to head the Los Angeles Police Department Monday, a veteran of the force and a crime statistics expert who says he wants to build trust between police and communities.
At a crowded press room in the mayor’s office, Garcetti described Moore, 54, as “one of if not the most qualified law enforcement professional in America” who doesn’t need to hit the ground running because “he is already running.”
The mayor told reporters he’d only made his decision early Monday and called Moore shortly after to offer him the position.
Moore – who was passed up for the same job back when he applied in 2009 – said he wants to build on the accountability and technological reforms initiated in recent years by his predecessor Charlie Beck, who is set to retire June 27.
“I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to lead the extraordinary men and women of the [LAPD],” Moore said. “Together, we will do our part to keep the momentum going in reducing crime, enhancing public safety, building the confidence of our communities in this Department.”
Moore choked up as he thanked his wife for her support and again when he looked into the cameras to tell his daughter – who he said is probably watching live on social media from her classroom – he loved her and hoped to make her proud.
Hector Villagra, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said Moore must expand the “humane” policies he has previously developed with the group.
“The new chief must commit himself and the LAPD to working collaboratively with all the communities of Los Angeles to address vital issues including completely disentangling the department from federal immigration enforcement and limiting dragnet surveillance,” Villagra said. “Moore, if confirmed, must also adopt de-escalation policies, reform gang enforcement practices and increase transparency and accountability around officer misconduct.”
When asked about SB 54, the state’s so-called Sanctuary State bill that limits police collaboration and interaction with immigration enforcement agencies, Moore said “the LAPD will respect the dignity” of every resident.
“An individual’s immigration status doesn’t matter to us,” he said. “We will concern ourselves with public safety.”
Garcetti hailed Moore as a reformer and a “rethinker” at the center of the department’s recent challenges.
In recent years, Moore has been at the center of the Los Angeles Police Department challenges around police shootings, immigration and corruption. He took over the reins at the Rampart Community Police Station after a corruption scandal overshadowed the force in the 1990s.
Moore said he wanted LAPD personnel to know they could “step forward” to address challenges in policing and offer ideas and innovations.
“This organization has an opportunity to reset, reinvigorate and renew,” he said.
LAPD officers have already told him some things he knew and other things that were like “water on my face in the sense of waking me up and saying I need to take a fresh look at this,” he said
Garcetti said it was a “stressful time for police officers” who are under more intense scrutiny and for communities of color “who still feel too far of a gap between those who police their communities and those neighborhoods where they live.”
Moore called the issue of police shootings of unarmed individuals “the most critical issue in policing today” and said he would be firm about expectations for every officer.
On the issue of homelessness, Moore said he would direct his office to consider modifying low level offenses and misdemeanors placed on homeless individuals. These marks on a record can often impede individuals from accessing care and services.
A local coalition announced last month they are seeking to overhaul the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, which grants certain protections for police officers under internal investigation for alleged misconduct.
Under the protections, public access to police officers’ personnel records is limited and advance notice is given to officers that a search of their personal belongings will be conducted.
The group is also demanding that LAPD dismantle crime predicting programs, claiming they disproportionately target those who are low-income or people of color and they collect data on individuals without consent.
On April 3, state lawmakers and civil rights groups proposed a bill to overhaul the state’s “reasonable force” rule for law enforcement.
Under the proposal by state Democrats, officers would only be able to use deadly force after considering all other nonlethal alternatives. If an officer doesn’t follow the proposed guidelines or use nonlethal techniques before shooting, they could be fired or even face criminal charges.
Police shot and killed 162 people in California in 2017, lawmakers said at the April 3 event.
Moore was one of three finalists chosen by the civilian Police Commission from a field of 31 applicants.
The other two finalists were LAPD deputy chief Robert Arcos and San Francisco Police Department Chief William Scott.
Garcetti struck a diplomatic tone, highlighting the achievements and qualifications of the three finalists, which he said made his decision difficult.
“We had three exceptional men. They laid out clear visions,” Garcetti said. “They overcame personal hardships. They were very much underdogs…who found their homes in becoming [LAPD] officers.”
Garcetti said Scott has been a “visionary chief” for San Francisco.
“Our loss today is San Francisco’s continuing gain,” he said.
When asked about the missed opportunity to name Arcos – who the mayor called an “LA success story” – as the city’s first Latino police chief, Garcetti said he wasn’t looking to “fill a demographic” but rather to select the right candidate.
“Arcos will be an amazing police chief one day,” Garcetti said, adding that with the “talent” within LAPD ranks, “a Latino police chief will emerge.”
Garcetti noted the smooth transition between the leaders, adding that Beck is the first outgoing chief in recent memory to attend the press conference of the incoming chief.
Asked if Moore was his choice as a successor, outgoing police chief Beck said Moore “was the mayor’s choice, and therefore my choice.”
Beck announced his retirement in January, a year and a half before his second term ends. He has led the department since 2009.
The decision by Garcetti to select Moore – who has been with LAPD since 1981 – must be approved by the Los Angeles City Council.
If confirmed, Moore, who runs the department’s patrol operations, would become the city’s 57th chief of police.
In a statement, First District Councilmember Gil Cedillo said he looks “forward to engaging in a rigorous vetting process” with his colleagues.
“The next Chief of Police of the LAPD must be able to tackle the challenges of our great city and our nation in partnership with our community and civic leaders,” he said. “We are living in trying times.”