LAPD names new interim police chief

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission appointed Assistant Chief Dominic Choi to be interim chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Feb. 7, a position he’ll assume at the beginning of March following the retirement of Chief Michel Moore.

The commission’s vote was unanimous. Choi will be the LAPD’s first Asian-American chief.

“Assistant Chief Choi’s vast experience during his 28-year career with the department has prepared him to act as the department’s interim chief of police. He is a well-respected leader within the department and the community, known for his vast knowledge and measured decision making,” the Board of Police Commission said in a statement.

“The police commission is confident he is uniquely qualified to steward the department into its next chapter and will lead the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department until a permanent chief of police is selected,” the statement added.

The commissioners joined Mayor Karen Bass at a City Hall news conference after a special board meeting to discuss the appointment.

“I look forward to working with interim Chief Choi in the coming months as he provides steady and stable leadership for our police department,” Bass said. “Interim Chief Choi’s more than 28 years of service to this city as a member of the police department put him in a unique position to not only lead, but to grow and improve our department.”

Choi thanked the mayor and the commissioners for having the “faith and confidence” in him to lead the third-largest law enforcement agency in the nation.

“I realize this appointment comes with tremendous, tremendous responsibility and I look forward to those challenges in the work ahead,” Choi said.

The interim chief shared his priority of maintaining stability in the department as the city continues its search for the new chief of police, as well as focusing on bolstering the LAPD’s ranks.

Choi said he will not be applying to fill the position permanently, following rules that the commissioners established in their search for an interim chief.

Moore extended his congratulations and gave his full support in the transition of leadership. He said he trusted Choi’s ability, and the department is in good hands as it “pursues an aggressive agenda of initiative while continuing to improve the public’s trust and confidence in the safety of L.A.”

Erroll Southers, president of the Board of Police Commissioners, said the decision did not come lightly. The commissioners spent weeks discussing who would step in as interim chief since Moore announced his plans for retirement in early January.

“As someone who has seen so much change, Chief Choi is uniquely qualified to lead the department at this time,” Southers said. “While speaking with Chief Choi, it became clear to my fellow commissioners that he has the institutional knowledge and his leadership priorities are fully aligned with the mayor and commission’s vision for the LAPD.”

The board of directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, issued a statement hailing the selection of Choi.

“The appointment of Assistant Chief Dominic Choi to lead the LAPD is an excellent choice that will instill confidence amongst the rank and file during this interim period while the search for a permanent chief takes place,” the union’s statement said. “We look forward to working with Dominic to continue to improve officer safety, grow our ranks, and try to keep Angelenos safe.”

The commission is in the process of identifying the top three candidates for Moore’s permanent replacement as chief in a nationwide search, which could take up to nine months, Southers noted. Bass is then expected to make a decision for the final appointment, although she has the ability to ask for other candidates.

The next chief will also need confirmation by the full City Council.

“We’re going to be working very expeditiously, of course, but very carefully to make sure that we are inclusive,” Southers said. “There will be a serious of events that happen both in the community and in the department for information regarding the characteristics that we will be looking forward to in the next chief.”

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi was raised locally and began his career with the LAPD in 1995 after earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from USC.

He was promoted to detective at the LAPD’s Harbor Division in 2001, to sergeant in the 77th Street area in 2002, lieutenant in 2009 and captain in 2014. In December 2017, he was promoted to commander and assigned to the Operations-Central Bureau. He was also appointed as the department’s homeless coordinator and remained in that position until July 2019.

He became deputy chief in August 2019 and assistant chief in July 2021.

In January, Choi was appointed director of the Office of Operations, responsible for South Bureau Homicide Division, LAX Field Services Division, the Department Homeless Coordinator, Operations-Central Bureau, Operations-South Bureau, Operations-West Bureau and Operations-Valley Bureau.

Choi is married with three children.

Moore was appointed last year to serve a second five-year term leading the agency. He had not intended to serve the entirety of that term, saying the LAPD should have fresh leadership ahead of the city hosting major events such as the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Moore joined the LAPD in 1981 and was promoted to captain in 1998. His assignments included assuming command of the Rampart Division after a police corruption scandal and serving in a top command capacity at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

He has served as LAPD chief since 2018, when he was appointed by then-Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Bass said Moore will remain contracted with the city following his retirement to help with the transition to a new chief.

Jose Herrera is a reporter for City News Service.