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Criminal Justice

Police Commission Begins Deliberations On Whether To Reappoint LAPD Chief Moore

LAPD Chief Michel Moore, in uniform.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
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The Los Angeles Police Commission is set to conduct a public hearing Tuesday on whether to reappoint Chief Michel Moore to a second five-year term.

Moore’s request to continue as head of the nation’s second largest police force comes amid concerns he has failed to fully embrace a new brand of “guardian policing” that emphasizes relationships with the community and problem-solving over arrests.

Nonetheless, two of the commission’s five members already have expressed support for Moore’s reappointment.

Moore has faced “very strong headwinds” as chief, said Commissioner Steve Soboroff. He cited the homelessness crisis and the push for criminal justice reform that Soboroff believes have made it harder to be a police officer — and chief.

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Soboroff pushed back at the chief’s critics. Moore has “instilled in this department” the importance of two “critical areas” — community policing and de-escalation when it comes to the use of force, Soboroff said. “There isn’t anyone in America that’s better suited for the LAPD than Mike Moore.”

Commission President William Briggs also has said he supports Moore — who has been with the department since 1981 — for another term.

A Promise To Serve Less Than A Full Term

Moore has touted increased mental health intervention training as among his accomplishments. He also points to a survey that found 71% of Angelenos feel the LAPD is “serving and protecting” their neighborhood — up from 63% about two years ago.

The chief told the Los Angeles Times he would only serve two or three years if he’s reappointed so he could groom people to succeed him and guide planning for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

“After significant departures of senior staff members over the last few years, it is critically important for me to continue the development and building of a succession plan,” Moore wrote to the commission in asking for reappointment.

Moore has presided over the LAPD during a time of unprecedented scrutiny of policing. It all came to a head in 2020 when the murder of George Floyd sent tens of thousands of protestors into the streets of L.A.

At the time, Moore had been chief for two years, and had been a top leader at the LAPD for more than a decade. It was very much his department.

An independent commission found the LAPD was ill-prepared and in disarray during the protests — that its officers did not know how to use less-than-lethal projectiles against crowds, used excessive force against peaceful protesters, and unlawfully detained thousands of people. Commanders were afraid to make decisions amid Moore’s micromanagement, and when they did they often made bad ones, according to the report.

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'He Has No Instincts For Community Policing'

After one night of protests, Moore listed the number of arrests and criticized the protestors: “We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man. We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands.”

Moore later apologized. But his comment outraged people who said it revealed an attitude of contempt toward the demonstrators.

“He has no instincts for community policing,” said civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who has worked with previous chiefs to help implement reform at the LAPD. She opposes Moore’s reappointment.

Rice accuses Moore of being lukewarm on shifting the department to a new model of policing and criticizes him for contemplating eliminating the department’s flagship Community Safety Partnership program. It focuses on relationships and problem-solving and not arrests.

“If he were a true advocate of community policing, we wouldn’t have had to battle him in hand-to-hand combat to force him to back off from ending [the Community Safety Partnership program], force him to create the Community Safety Partnership Bureau.”

Statistics show bigger drops in crime in areas where this program exists, yet there are only 90 officers assigned to work in it out of about 9,200 on the force. Moore has said he wholeheartedly supports the program — pointing to his creation of the bureau devoted to it.

The police commission has until the end of March to decide whether to reappoint Moore.

Mayor Karen Bass’s opinion will matter a lot, because the commissioners serve at her pleasure.

“The Mayor has not made a decision,” her press office said in a statement.

“Mayor Bass and Chief Moore have had several conversations regarding her vision of public safety and the future of the LA Police Department and the two will continue to discuss these important issues,” it said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect figure for the number of sworn LAPD officers.

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