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LAPD appoints first Asian American chief on interim basis

Dominic H. Choi was appointed the Los Angeles Police Department’s interim chief on Wednesday, marking the first time one of the nation’s largest police departments is led by an Asian American.

Choi, who is serving as assistant chief, was unanimously appointed to the position 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
Los Angeles Police Department’s Assistant Chief Dominic Choi at a press conference in Los Angeles, on Wednesday.NBC Los Angeles

Choi’s start date is March 1.

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

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

Choi will be the interim chief as the mayor and police commission spend the next six to nine months searching for a permanent replacement — among the LAPD’s ranks and nationwide — to head up the department of nearly 9,000 officers during the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 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 chief 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 during 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 the U.S. Census Bureau. Residents who identified as Asian alone accounted for nearly 12% of the city’s population, according to the census bureau.

The board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League union lauded the decision to name Choi interim chief.

“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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