The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners announced on Wednesday that they have chosen Assistant LAPD Chief Dominic Choi to become the Interim Police Chief in the coming months. Choi will take the office on March 1st following the retirement of current Chief Michel Moore.
Choi, a USC graduate, first joined the LAPD as a police officer in 1995. In 2001, he was promoted to detective, spurring a long string of promotions in the coming years, including becoming a sergeant in 2002, a lieutenant in 2009, and a captain in 2014. In 2017, when he was promoted to commander, he became noted for being appointed as the LAPD Homeless Coordinator. Since 2019, he has been a Deputy Chief and an Assistant Chief, and has held on to many positions within that title, including being Chief of Staff to Chief Moore, head of the Administrative Services Bureau, and the Director of the Office of Operations.
This all led to January, when LAPD Chief Moore announced that he would be retiring at the end of February and move to Tennessee to be closer to his family. Needing an interim Chief, the Board of Commissioners reviewed candidates for the next several weeks, with many groups angling to have someone from their demographic as the next Chief. With more time needed to pick a permanent Chief, the Board selected the Korean-American Choi on Wednesday as the interim Chief, making him the first Asian-American ever to hold that post. However, the board also warned that the position would be temporary, and by accepting it, Choi would not receive the permanent Chief position, although he would be allowed to stay at the LAPD in a new role.
“This appointment will continue our work to make Los Angeles safer. I look forward to working with Interim Chief Choi in the coming months as he provides steady and stable leadership for our police department,” said Mayor Karen Bass at a press conference on Wednesday. “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. I want to thank Interim Chief Choi for his willingness to accept this appointment as we work to make our city safer for all.”
Choi selected as next interim Chief
“During Chief Choi’s interview, it became clear that he was the best person to lead the Los Angeles Police Department into the next chapter,” Los Angeles Police Commission president Erroll Southers added. “He’s someone who’s been seen in the LAPD, someone who understands American policing and the change throughout the years, changes in how the department handles use of force, how the department interacts with vulnerable communities, community policing and investing in the communities that we serve.”
While Choi will only be serving for a few months, he is to help oversee continued hiring within the LAPD as well as the continued buildup of officers in anticipation of both the World Cup and the Olympics in the next four years.
“I will focus on recruitment of new officers as retirements continue to outpace the hiring of new officers,” said Choi on Wednesday. “We are constantly busy, and busier than ever. I need to make sure that we take down barriers to hiring, and we shorten the hiring timeline. I’m very happy to be the first Korean American interim chief, and I proudly represent the community. But to be absolutely clear, my role is to represent all communities within the city. I will make sure public safety is equally and inclusively done throughout the city, and we’re not siloing any communities.”
While the selection of Choi was met with few complaints on Wednesday and Thursday, experts told the Globe that Choi’s selection only delayed what would likely be the most controversial choice for a Chief in LAPD history.
“Choi is honestly not that bad a candidate,” added a former LAPD officer turned security supervisor who wished to remain anonymous. “You know, he pushed for hiring more police for years and is known as a fair officer. And he has been surprisingly honest whenever he talks with the press. But who replaces him permanently is what we need to worry about. We still have all these groups calling for the LAPD to be downsized even as we need more officers now more than ever. All these groups are also pushing a diversity hire.”
“And, look, the LAPD should just pick the right person for the job. It’s not about what race or gender someone is, but if they can do the job fairly and protect the people and property of Los Angeles. The motto of the LAPD is ‘To Protect and Serve.’ We need a chief who can do that and continue on rebuilding the force. All officers will follow a man or woman who can prove to do that. And the people of LA want someone who can indeed protect and serve.”
An announcement for a replacement of Choi is likely to come later this year.