LOS ANGELES — A 36-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, who has seen it grapple with some of its toughest times from the 1991 beating of Rodney King by four officers to the more recent erosion of trust in law enforcement, is expected to become the next chief of police in the nation's second-largest city.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he has chosen Michel Moore as the 57th police chief of the department, calling it "the most important personnel decision that I probably will make as mayor."
Moore, who beat out two other candidates chosen by the city Police Commission, joined the department in 1981, a decade before King's beating and ensuing riots.
He assumed command of a key division in the department following a corruption crisis in the late 1990s known as the Rampart scandal, which inspired a movie starring Woody Harrelson.
At a news conference announcing his nomination, Moore acknowledged the challenges of the department's past and future as law enforcement agencies across the country struggle to build trust within minority communities following high-profile, officer-involved deaths of black and Hispanic people, including some in Los Angeles.
Moore, 57, said he's learned from meeting with community members that there's "a desire that we be more engaged, that we be more deeply invested."
He said he would continue his "listening campaign."
"This is not me coming in with an agenda of where we're going to go as much as it is with — as we build trust and improve the safety of Los Angeles and improve the lives of the men and women of this department — how can we do better?" he said.
If Garcetti's selection of Moore is approved by the City Council, as expected, he will replace Chief Charlie Beck, who has led the department since 2009 and whose last day is June 27.
Garcetti also emphasized building relationships with the community, saying "too many police officers in this country don't feel supported" and "too many communities of color still feel disconnected."
"This is a difficult moment for law enforcement in American history," he said. "We've done a pretty good job of keeping the peace but I believe we all could acknowledge we could do more to build that peace."
He said Moore has the commitment and character to get the job done.
"His leadership will strengthen a department that's considered a North Star for law enforcement worldwide," he said.
In a statement, the department's police union said its members hope Moore will take immediate action to address low officer morale stemming from critically low police staffing.
The union said it was "ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work" with Moore, who did not address staffing levels at the news conference.
Moore did say that in talking recently to the department's rank and file, he heard complaints that were "water on my face in the sense of waking me up and saying, 'I need to take a fresh look at this.'"