Mayor Bass faces choice for next LAPD chief: Hire from within or bring in an outsider

LAPD interim Chief Dominic H. Choi shakes hands with Mayor Karen Bass.
New LAPD interim Chief Dominic H. Choi shakes hands with Mayor Karen Bass after being named to the position at City Hall on Feb. 7 in Los Angeles.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

After selecting a temporary Los Angeles police chief to replace the retiring Michel Moore, the mayor and Police Commission are setting their sights on a bigger challenge: choosing who gets the job permanently.

Already, the names of several early contenders have been making the rounds at City Hall and police headquarters. Two of the perceived front-runners came up through the department ranks and were promoted to top posts by Moore, while another is a longtime big city police chief with Southern California roots.

Mayor Karen Bass told The Times that city officials would announce in the coming days which national search firm will be tapped to find a permanent successor for Moore, who is stepping down at the end of the month. Bass said that she expects the hiring process to take four to six months.


Last week, the the LAPD’s civilian oversight commission appointed assistant chief Dominic Choi to take over on an interim basis for Moore, who spent the last 5½ years as the city’s top cop.

“Dominic Choi will be a leader who will steady the ship,” Bass said. “He is not coming in to make drastic changes, during the time that he is an interim though we will be doing an assessment of the department and recommendations will be made for the next chief.”

The Los Angeles Police Commission named a department insider as interim chief to replace Michel Moore, who will step down at the end of the month.

Feb. 7, 2024

When asked exactly what qualities she wanted in a new chief, Bass demurred, saying she was waiting to get input from officers and residents. As for whether she is leaning toward naming a chief from within or opting for an experienced outsider who could take the department in another direction, Bass said she was waiting to let the search process play out. She said she planned on touring “all of the stations or bureaus” and hearing out officers “about what they want to see in the next chief.”

“Not who, but what, and just gathering what they have to say,” she said. “And we’re going to give this information to the search firm.”

Bass said her deputy mayor of community safety, Karren Lane, is finalizing a survey with UCLA researchers to ask what the community expects from its police chief. The results will be released in the coming weeks. Commission and city leaders will likely embark on a listening tour, incorporating input from in-person and virtual meetings into the search.

While she expects the LAPD to attract top-notch candidates from across the country, Bass pointed out that the market for policing executives is “tight” with openings in Oakland, San Diego and other big California cities.


Although a list of finalists likely won’t be delivered to Bass for several months, there’s already speculation about who will take over the nation’s third-biggest police department. Two people thought to be early front-runners are current members of the senior staff, Assistant Chief Blake Chow and Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides. Another is an outsider, Art Acevedo, who has run police departments in Austin and Houston in Texas and, briefly, Miami.

Another name mentioned early on has been Bill Scott, who left the LAPD in 2017 to take his current job as chief of San Francisco police. Scott told the San Francisco Standard last month that he was “not interested” in pursuing the LAPD job. He did not immediately respond to a voicemail from The Times seeking comment.

If either Tingirides or Acevedo were to get the job, they would mark historic firsts. In the case of Tingirides, the city has never had a woman as chief. Acevedo would be the first Latino to lead the now majority-Latino force.

“I absolutely think that the city is ready for its first woman chief,” said Bass, the first woman elected mayor. She added that any candidate will be evaluated on the basis of criteria established during the search process. “We have a woman fire chief who is excellent and a woman chief of police would be welcomed. And when I talk to officers, I don’t hear concern about a woman chief. In other words, I’ve heard support form a lot of different officers about that.”

For all the gains women in the LAPD have made in recent decades, they remain underrepresented in the upper reaches of the department.

Jan. 28, 2024

At the end of the process, the commission will interview some of the top contenders, before winnowing the list to three. Bass may choose one from the list, or ask the commission to do more legwork and come up with more names. Whomever Bass nominates will have to be confirmed by the City Council. Another powerful voice in the decision will be the two unions representing the department’s rank-and-file and command staff.

Tingirides was promoted to deputy chief in 2020 and placed in charge of the LAPD’s signature community policing program, which seeks to improve relations with residents of housing developments. Last fall, Moore sent Tingirides to take over the busy South Bureau, a transfer widely seen as giving her the necessary operational experience to one day become chief.


Chow joined the LAPD in 1990 and now oversees the counter-terrorism, detective and transit bureaus. Until his promotion last fall, he worked as a deputy chief in charge of five Westside police stations and the LAX Field Services Division. He also serves on the planning group for the 2028 Olympics, one of several major sporting events that the city will host over the next few years.

Bass said she wants “a leader of the department who will be absolutely committed to community-based policing to understand the value of having partners, for example, when it comes to mental health.”

Bass said she is also looking for someone who will recognize emergencies where armed police are not the best response, and be willing to work with service providers to reach the people who are most in need.

For months, someone has been filing anonymous complaints against members of the LAPD command staff under the pseudonym “Mel Smith.”

Nov. 5, 2023

Choi is officially set to start in his role as interim chief March 1. On Tuesday the commission approved his annual salary of $397,163, a 10% increase over his previous pay. The current salary range for the permanent job starts at $275,198 with a cap of just under $483,000.

LAPD observers say that the chief job calls for a top-notch policing executive, one who has the skill set needed to manage, motivate and hold accountable more than 10,000 employees, while overseeing a multibillion-dollar budget and navigating an array of complex political and racial issues.

Other challenges, such as with hiring and retaining officers, are a universal concern among law enforcement agencies, according to Edgardo “Eddie” Garcia, who is the Dallas police chief and president of the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Assn. Being top cop in Los Angeles calls for not only understanding the department’s place in history, but also “knowing the political landscape in regards to criminal justice reform that California has undergone.”


“If the department is on solid ground, I think someone from internal could continue on that,” Garcia said. “If there are tweaks that need to be made, or an outside perspective is what the city has an appetite for, then I think there’s a different way.”

The last two chiefs were elevated from the department’s ranks and the LAPD has rarely strayed outside of the department to hire a chief. Perhaps the most notable was William Bratton, a brash-talking East Coaster who was appointed in 2002 and oversaw a raft of reforms when the department was under a federal consent decree.

Like Bratton, any outsider will have to surround himself with the right senior staff and get up to speed quickly, said Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, who chairs the City Council’s public safety committee.

“It’s all dependent on what the mayor decides the process is going to look like,” said Rodriguez. “For me, it’s a combination of understanding the community that this department will serve as well, which is also a majority Latino.”

Outside of City Hall and police headquarters, the chief’s search is being met with shrugs.

Pastor Cue Jn-Marie of the Church Without Walls, which does outreach in the Skid Row area, said: “It doesn’t matter who comes in as chief; the trust has been eroded over decades with LAPD and law enforcement in general.”

Jn-Marie, who has often spoken up at public meetings about what he sees as a sharp return under Moore to more aggressive tactics that disproportionately affect Black and brown Angelenos, said the outgoing chief was no different from his predecessors, who failed to “think about a holistic way of keeping the city safe.”