LOS ANGELES (CNS) - With Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck retiring today, the City Council unanimously approved his replacement, Assistant Chief Michel Moore, who was selected by Mayor Eric Garcetti to take over the department.
Before his confirmation vote Moore was showered with praise and compliments by City Council members, and the 36-year LAPD veteran has now officially cleared all hurdles to replace Beck, who announced in January that he would be stepping down today after more than 40 years with the department and having served as its chief since late 2009.
``You were selected from 31 candidates because of your experience and your depth of knowledge,'' City Councilman David Ryu told Moore during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, which immediately preceded the full City Council meeting. ``You've risen through the ranks. You were a police officer, a detective, a sergeant, a lieutenant, you worked patrols, investigations, and administrative assignments throughout the city. Quite frankly you are the LAPD, and your experience and position makes you extremely qualified to represent the LAPD and the thousands of men and women who have sworn to protect and to serve.''
Moore was immediately sworn into office by Garcetti after the vote, although he does not officially become the chief until midnight when Beck's retirement becomes effective. The City Charter calls for the Board of Police Commissioners to examine all applicants for the job before giving three recommendations to the mayor, who then selects a finalist who must be confirmed by the City Council.
Garcetti chose Moore over San Francisco police Chief William ``Bill'' Scott and Deputy LAPD Chief Robert Arcos. The choice of the next chief carries a significant amount of symbolic weight in light of the department's troubled history on race relations, the current #MeToo movement bringing sexual harassment into the public debate, and President Donald Trump's aggressive rhetoric and actions on illegal immigration. The commissioners did not forward any female finalists to Garcetti -- Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala did not apply for the job despite being viewed by some as a potential top candidate -- and the mayor ended up choosing Moore over Scott, who is black, and Arcos, a Latino.
The mayor insisted he simply wanted the best person for the job and wasn't ``looking to fill a demographic or make history'' with the selection.
Moore's father was Basque, and he is listed as Hispanic on LAPD rosters. Moore was also one of the three finalists chosen by the Board of Police Commissioners back in 2009, but then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chose Beck. Moore has risen through the ranks of the department as a police officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain before taking on various high command roles.
He was also placed in charge of the Rampart Division in 2000 in the aftermath of a scandal that found widespread abuse and corruption in the division. As a young officer, Moore was involved in a fatal incident for which he received the department's Medal of Valor after he shot and killed a suspect who had killed his wife with a semi-automatic rifle in a parking lot in 1986.
When he announced the selection earlier this month, Garcetti said, ``I've seen him work with difficult issues, whether it is with impounding cars and working with the immigrant community and his strong commitment to civil rights. I've seen his work personally. No one works harder. No one reads more. And no one has a greater breadth of experience.''
Moore is set to take over a department that in many ways has been on the upswing in recent years. Homicides are at their lowest sustained point in decades, and the department has markedly improved its standing in the community since the Los Angeles riots and the Rampart scandal in the 1990s gave it a national reputation for brutality and corruption. But there are a number of significant challenges Moore is facing.
Overall violent crime has risen for four straight years after 12 years of declines, police shootings have gone up although they are dropping in some other large cities, and the department is still a focal point of criticism by the local Black Lives Matter movement, whose members regularly attend the meetings of the Board of Police Commissioners to chastise the department over the shootings of civilians.
Moore discussed the Rampart scandal and an earlier corruption scandal that rocked the Hollywood Division, assuring the Public Safety Committee the problems were ``evil'' that is no longer allowed to fester.``Our officers will make mistakes, and those mistakes we need to fix. We need to own them. The power of apology is important. But also the power in a sense of moving through that to understand, how did I make a mistake,'' Moore said.
``But the issues of Hollywood and Rampart weren't mistakes, they were mistakes that weren't attended to. And when they weren't attended to they grew to be evil.''
He added, ``I am convinced, there is not a member of this organization that today or in our past that looks at the evils I have described with a forgiving eye.''Moore also noted that he is the son of an immigrant while vowing to continue the department's longtime policy of not helping the federal government enforce immigration policy beyond what it is required to do by law.``We are going to continue with the recognition that the rights of all people of Los Angeles, regardless of their immigration status, are to be protected,'' Moore said.
``The dignity of all individuals is to be protected. Our outreach will continue. I'm proud of the diversity that our organization represents. I believe that's a tool, it's an effective means of communicating. We are a department that is a majority of minorities, and many of our members are first generation. Many of them immigrated to this country themselves.''
Moore also said that he would work to continue to diversify the department's ranks in regard to minorities and women, noting that the number of females has leveled off for some time at around 19 percent.
When asked at the committee meeting how he might differ from Beck, Moore was quick to say that his approach would likely be far more similar to Beck's than it would be different, but one difference the public could expect is his presence more often at City Council meetings, as Beck rarely appeared at them.
``I've heard clearly from this committee, as well as from the council, to be more present ... with both the committee hear as well as the full council, to be a more visible partner with you, and with the kitchen cabinet if you will, the mayor and with other general managers,'' Moore said. ``I believe Chief Beck has done a tremendous job. But I clearly heard the perception, the sentiment, and I intend to address that head on.''