LAPD appoints first Asian American chief on interim basis

Dominic H. Choi was appointed as the Los Angeles Police Department’s interim chief Wednesday, the first time one of the country’s largest police departments has been led by an Asian American.

Choi, an assistant chief, was unanimously appointed by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, police said.

“I’m very happy to be the first Korean American interim chief of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Choi said. “I proudly represent that community. But just to be absolutely clear, my role is to represent all communities within this city.”

lapd police interim chief
Assistant Los Angeles Police Chief Dominic Choi at a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.NBC Los Angeles

Choi starts March 1.

NBC Los Angeles reported that the police department has sought to establish a close relationship with the city’s Korean American community after the 1992 riots in the city.

The appointment follows the surprise retirement of Chief Michel Moore, whose tenure was marked by greater scrutiny of excessive force and police killings of civilians. Choi said he has never used deadly force in his 28 years as an officer.

Choi will be the interim chief as the mayor and the police commission spend the next six to nine months searching for a permanent replacement — among the police department’s ranks and nationwide — to head up the force of nearly 9,000 officers during the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Moore will stay on as a consultant for an unspecified period of time.

By accepting the interim role, Choi is not allowed to apply for the permanent position. He vowed to set the stage for a smooth transition for whoever lands the job on a full-time basis.

“My philosophy as interim chief is not to go in there and turn the place upside-down and make significant change,” he said at Wednesday’s news conference announcing his appointment.

As of July 2022, Los Angeles had an estimated population of more than 3.8 million residents, according to census data. Residents who identified as Asian alone accounted for nearly 12% of the city’s population, according to the Census Bureau.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League’s board of directors lauded Choi’s appointment.

“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 said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Dominic to continue to improve officer safety, grow our ranks, and try to keep Angelenos safe.” 

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