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Community members share traits they want to see in new LAPD police chief

Dominic Choi, who is the interim chief of LAPD, is pictured alongside Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. Katy Yaroslavsky and the LA Board of Police Commissioners held a webinar Tuesday to hear community input on characteristics they want the new chief to hold. (Courtesy of the Office of Mayor Bass)

By Dora Gao

May 13, 2024 7:31 p.m.

Community members highlighted issues they want to see addressed by the next LAPD police chief during a webinar Tuesday.

The webinar – co-hosted by District 5 Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky and the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday evening – allowed participants to share complaints surrounding officers, including slow response times.

LAPD is currently run by interim chief Dominic Choi, the first Asian American to run the department. The previous chief, Michel Moore, retired after being accused of ordering detectives to investigate a scholarship Mayor Karen Bass had received from the University of Southern California, according to the LA Times.

[Related: Dominic Choi receives appointment to serve as interim chief of LAPD]

Rasha Gerges Shields, who is the vice president of the LA Board of Police Commissioners, and Fabian Garcia, who is the police commissioner of the city of LA, said the police commission selects three candidates from a shortlist of six after an initial round of interviews. The mayor then selects the final nominee after an additional round of interviews, and the city council votes to approve or deny the candidate.

Shields and Garcia also discussed ways the community could receive help from or give feedback to the LAPD, such as via email or mail.

After Shields and Garcia’s presentation, some community members said they want a police chief who encourages more police presence in local communities. Peter Nichols, the executive director of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, said he believes police should communicate with community members and have at least one officer present in each division at all times.

“We need senior lead officers or at least one in every division on duty … at all hours,” he said. “Not only are families suffering from the trauma of crime but so are communities where it occurs.”

Helen Jacobs-Lepor, a community member from Benedict Canyon – just northeast of UCLA – said LA used to be one of the best cities to live in, adding that she believes the failure to enforce laws has made residents afraid to live there.

“I feel like we’re just sitting ducks waiting for someone to break in,” said Jacobs-Lepor, who is also a UCLA alumnus.

Nicholas Gunnett, a community member, said he hopes the next police chief will pay more attention to the lives of citizens and day-to-day situations rather than stopping events like peaceful protests.

Renee Edry, a member of the Community Safety Group in the Pico-Robertson area, said she also would like the next chief to communicate with nongovernmental and faith-based organizations and to also learn more about how to use de-escalation techniques during protests.

Some community members said it is important to choose a chief who is from LA or who knows the city very well.

Shields concluded the meeting by saying that the community’s opinion is important to the police department. She added that the LAPD hopes to highlight LA’s diversity when choosing its next chief.

“The city of LA is such a vast and diverse city, … and it’s a very large area – different terrains, different communities, different needs, different concerns,” she said. “We’re really trying to balance all of that.”

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