Black leaders seek input in hiring next LAPD chief

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Black community leaders and activists are pushing for input in the hiring process of a new chief for the Los Angeles Police Department, a request considered the first step in demanding widespread policy changes within a police force under scrutiny for questionable shootings, racial profiling and excessive force.

The impending departure of Chief Michel Moore, announced on Jan. 12, is viewed as an opportunity for the LAPD and Mayor Karen Bass to rebuild trust and deliver effective community public safety.

“We don’t need gladiators … we need guardians and partners in the mission to achieve public safety in our communities,” said noted civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who served on President Barack Obama’s Task Force for 21st Century Policing. “There has to be a very different approach from shock and awe and mass incarceration.”

The Los Angeles Police Commission will make a recommendation on Moore’s successor, but the final decision rests with Bass, who has made public safety one of her primary agenda items since she was elected in November 2022.

Bass’ decision, however, won’t be made until many community leaders have their say, as well as the opportunity to interview finalists for the position.

“At some point, we’ll be saying what we expect,” said Rev. William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California. “We plan to go to the Police Commission meetings. We want to know what kind of accountability the new chief will have.”

Smart was part of a clergy group that gathered at City Hall in December to call for Moore’s resignation after reports surfaced that Moore had allegedly ordered an investigation into Bass regarding a $95,000 scholarship she received from USC some 10 years earlier.

Moore denied the allegations but the situation added more strain to his relationship with the Black community.

“It definitely stirred the pot,” Smart said of the investigation allegations.

Moore, who served as police chief since 2018, informed Bass that he will stay in office until the end of February to assist with the transition. An interim chief will take over at that point.

At an MLK Breakfast on the USC campus on Jan. 13, Bass said Moore will work as a consultant after February. Bass told attendees at the breakfast that a national search will be conducted and that she hopes to name a successor in about six months.

In the meantime, community leaders will be making their case on what skills and distinctions the new chief needs to bring to the LAPD and how the department must implement major changes.

“We’re very concerned with who the next chief will be,” said Najee Ali, president of Project Islamic Hope. “We’re still demanding accountability for the number of civilians killed and shot by officers. We want an end to racial profiling, unjust police stops and the targeting of Black and brown youths. The police tend to harass our youth and look at all of them as gang members. Often times, it’s the farthest from the truth.”

Candidates are expected to hear extensive concerns about the relationship between the LAPD and the Black community. How candidates and the eventual person hired deal with this dilemma will likely be a major discussion item in interviews and meetings.

Though many community leaders lauded Moore for his willingness to sit down with them and hear concerns, there are strong feelings that LAPD needs to do far more to develop trust.

“We have to get someone who has the same concerns for the community, someone who is community focused,” said Robert Sausedo, president of Community Build Inc. “The person has to be willing to work with new strategies, particularly on things that impact people of color. Moore was more than willing to discuss those issues with us.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the president of Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said Moore’s departure allows Bass the opportunity to hire a chief who will totally reform the police department. 

The next chief must be fully committed to total reform of the LAPD on everything from use of deadly force to end to racial profiling,” Hutchinson said.

Moore’s departure was celebrated by Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles President Melina Abdullah. Black Lives Matter did not have a productive relationship with Moore. Abdullah blamed Moore for the “excessive force” used by LAPD officers during the George Floyd protests in 2020.

Abdullah said her group will not be involved in the hiring process for a new chief, but she said the organization shares the desires of other groups in calling for LAPD reform.

“My hopes go above whoever the new chief will be,” Abdullah said. “My hopes rest with Mayor Bass. She knows what the community needs. We’re hopeful she’ll base her decision that way.”

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at