Next chief should come from within, some say

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Support is growing among leaders in the Black community to urge Mayor Karen Bass and the Los Angeles Police Commission to promote from within when the interview process is concluded for the city’s next police chief.

The Police Commission hired Bob Murray and Associates, a search firm based in Roseville, California, to look nationwide for candidates, but community leaders believe the right person for the job is already in the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

“If they hire someone from the community, that person has skin in the game … somebody who understands the community,” said Skipp Townsend, president and CEO of 2nd Call, an organization in South Los Angeles that provides job skills training and services to ex-offenders.

Mayor Bass has the ultimate decision-making power after she gets a list of finalists from the Police Commission. The application process is scheduled to close June 19. A new police chief is expected to be hired in August.

Dominic Choi has been serving as interim police chief since Michel Moore stepped down at the end of February with two years remaining in his term.

A spokesperson for the Police Commission said at least “four or five” more listening sessions will be scheduled after the closing date to provide further opportunities for community input.

Even though attendance at previous listening sessions has been sparse, community leaders will continue to push for a local hire.

“An outsider is not needed to reform LAPD,” said Najee Ali, president of Project Islamic Hope. “Nobody wants an outsider for such a high-profile position who doesn’t know anything about the community. There’s enough qualified candidates inside LAPD capable of doing the job.”

At the top of the list for many community leaders is Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides, a Black woman who has been with the LAPD for 32 years. Tingirides is currently chief of LAPD’s South Bureau.

Townsend attended a listening session two weeks ago at Magnolia Place Family Center that was geared toward organizations dedicated to gang intervention. Townsend said the meeting gave attendees “a voice” in front of the Police Commission and the opportunity to speak about Tingirides.

“The fact that she was born and raised in L.A. and grew up in Watts makes a big difference,” Townsend said of Tingirides. “It’s important to have somebody local, but not just somebody who has a lot of stars and bars.”

Tingirides was among several potential LAPD finalists listed by the Los Angeles Times in a report on June 3. 

Other LAPD finalists mentioned in the report included Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton (who leads LAPD’s Detective Bureau), Assistant Chief Blake Chow (head of Special Operations), Deputy Chief Donald Graham (leads Transit Services Bureau) and Robert Arcos, a former deputy chief now working for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

The last time LAPD went outside to hire a police chief was in 2002 when William Bratton was brought in after serving as chief in New York City. Bratton served his maximum eight years allowed based on guidelines in the Los Angeles City Charter.

Bratton’s successors — Michael Downing, Charles Beck and Moore — were all promoted from within.

The process to find Moore’s successor has been more challenging for the Police Commission because of minimal community input. Attendance for 18 previously scheduled listening sessions has been disappointing for a variety of reasons.

Lack of advanced notice is one reason cited by community members. Another issue, and this one appears to be a more serious concern for the Police Commission, is apathy. 

Ongoing tensions between LAPD and the Black community and other communities of color, have reduced the hiring process to an afterthought for many residents.

“One of the most important aspects of the search for the next chief of police is the inclusion of public input,” Police Commission President Erroll G. Southers said in a statement to The Wave. “For this commission, it is important that we hear from Angelenos about the qualities they most desire from the next police chief, and what they feel are the most pressing issues in their communities and within public safety.”

In addition to the listening sessions, the Police Commission conducts meetings every Tuesday morning that are open to the public. Information on the Tuesday meetings can be found at www.oig.lacity.org.

People unable to attend the Tuesday meetings can submit comments via email that will be read during the meetings:policecommission@lapd.online.

As much as the Police Commission has attempted to upgrade its community outreach, the agency may continue to struggle to increase participation.

“There’s a sentiment in our community that it doesn’t matter who the next police chief will be,” Ali said. “People feel the same stuff will keep happening … racial profiling and unfair treatment.”

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at rayrich55@gmail.com.

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