As Michel Moore was sworn in as Los Angeles police chief Thursday, two of his predecessors sat behind him.
It was Moore’s first day leading the Los Angeles Police Department, but he had worked closely with William J. Bratton and then Charlie Beck during their tenures as chief as they transformed a department once known for brutal tactics and corruption into one that is on the forefront of community policing and efforts to reduce police shootings.
“He’s listened to the people of this city for three decades. He’s learned the ins and outs of every facet,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told city officials and LAPD officers at the Police Academy in Elysian Park. “Our next chapter is not something he’ll need to learn on the job. He’s already been busy writing it.”
That next chapter, Moore said in his swearing-in speech, will include deepening the community’s trust in the LAPD as well as listening to the concerns of the department’s 10,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees.
“A department that once operated with the mentality of policing a neighborhood by force has embraced the understanding that our true strength is shown by our ability to partner and collaborate,” said Moore, 57. “To the people of Los Angeles, I am committed to deepening your trust by ensuring we are a department that is highly visible, accessible and responsive, policing with purpose, compassion and partnership.”
In his speech, Moore also promised to reduce the use of deadly force by his officers, who in 2017 fatally shot 17 people, despite training that teaches them to step back from dangerous encounters and to use Tasers and beanbag shotguns when possible.
Moore had already been sworn in the previous day at City Hall, after the City Council voted unanimously to confirm his appointment. The oath-taking and pinning of the chief’s four stars were reenacted Thursday in front of about 600 spectators.
Moore grew up poor in a family that moved frequently as his parents looked for work. He remembers officials arriving to repossess the family station wagon one Christmas Day. He vowed that he would never live like that, joining the LAPD in 1981.
Garcetti chose Moore from three finalists, all LAPD veterans, submitted to him after Beck announced his intention to retire by the civilian commission that oversees the department.
Moore, known for his intellect and work ethic and for expecting his subordinates to be as prepared as he is, was also a finalist for the job nine years ago but lost out to Beck.
Now, after nearly 37 years in the LAPD, his time had come.
Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Moore said that despite years in the upper echelons of the department, being chief felt different.
“I’m now responsible for 13,000 lives,” Moore said. “I’ve been a member of the team. Now I’m the backstop, the last stop.”
In earlier interviews with The Times, Moore offered details about his plans, which include transferring more officers to street patrol, surveying department members and residents to get a fine-grained picture of their needs, and recruiting more women and African Americans to the LAPD.
Recently, 350 officers who were in desk assignments or specialized units were assigned to patrol to address complaints from residents and City Council members that response times in some parts of the city were too slow. Moore said he plans to shift an additional 200 officers to work as either patrol officers or station-based detectives by the end of the year.
A community policing program started by Beck in the city’s public housing developments recently expanded to the Harvard Park neighborhood and will soon move into downtown’s South Park area. Moore said the LAPD is scouting locations to eventually bring the program, whose officers focus on addressing residents’ needs rather than arresting people, to the San Fernando Valley.
Moore has been attending church services in Los Angeles and says he expects police officers to do the same, as a way of connecting with residents who do not usually interact with the police.
“I think that’s a particular area where we see many of our community for the first time, because they’re not calling us for being a crime victim,” Moore said.
Moore, who lives in Santa Clarita, had said that if he became chief, he would move to Los Angeles to have more of a stake in the city. This week, he said he has put down a deposit on a home, though he would not reveal the neighborhood for security reasons. His salary as chief will be just over $350,000 a year.
In recent years, several controversial shootings by LAPD officers have added fuel to the local Black Lives Matter movement. At weekly Police Commission meetings, Moore is likely to face hostility from the same activists who called Beck a murderer and demanded that he be fired.
Moore said he will not be satisfied until there are no more police shootings in the city.
“Last year, we had 17. Seventeen is too many,” Moore said. “There is no right number except zero.”
In some recent shootings, Moore said, Tasers or beanbag shotguns have not disabled the suspect, forcing police officers to draw their handguns.
The LAPD is testing a 40-millimeter rifle that shoots a projectile similar to a hockey puck and may eventually replace the beanbag gun if it proves to be more effective.
“We’re looking for a bigger punch and the ability to be farther away as a means of overcoming the resistance of a violent suspect,” Moore said.
He said he plans to announce his command staff in the next two weeks.
After Thursday’s swearing-in, Beck said he was happy to retire knowing “the LAPD is in a good place.”
“It’s a great day today — not only for me, but because I get to hand the baton to Michel Moore,” Beck said. “He will more than succeed. He will take what I’ve done and make it better.”