By Dorany Pineda
LOS ANGELES — For Melina Abdullah, Cal State L.A. professor and leader of Black Lives Matter L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to appoint Michel Moore as the next Los Angeles Police Department’s police chief was “the absolute worst” choice.
Abdullah said Moore is among those who have been instrumental in developing the LAPD’s “architecture of surveillance … that really over-criminalizes and targets black folks especially.”
Garcetti, Abdullah said to the L.A. Times, “chose to appoint the person who’s the most disconnected from the community,” stating that Moore is rooted deeply in the department’s leadership. “That is an indication of what [Garcetti] thinks of community engagement and meaningful reform for policing.”
Garcetti announced June 4 that Moore, a 36-year LAPD veteran, was his pick between Deputy Chief Robert Arcos, who runs the department’s Central Bureau, and Bill Scott, who has led the San Francisco Police Department for more than a year after leaving L.A.
In a news conference, Garcetti said this was “the hardest and easiest decision I’ve ever made,” and that Moore was “one of, if not the most qualified law enforcement professional in America, acknowledged by everybody for his exceptional intelligence.”
“I’ve seen his work personally,” he added. “No one works harder. No one reads more. And no one has a greater breadth of experience.”
In May, community activist Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope and others held a press conference urging the mayor to pick Scott, who is African American. They argued that Scott had the “cultural competency” to “lead the [LAPD] into 21st century strategies in community-focused policing with dignity and integrity and transparency.”
But when Ali heard that Moore was chosen, he said in a statement that he welcomed that choice.
“Moore has the knowledge and expertise to be a great chief. … South L.A. community leaders congratulate Chief Moore and we’re excited to keep working with him.”
Others were rooting for Arcos, a third-generation Mexican American, who would have been the first Latino chief in a city with a growing Latino demographic. City Councilman Gil Cedillo and several former elected officials believed that appointing Arcos would be a symbolic choice against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigrant communities.
When Garcetti was asked by a reporter why he did not choose Arcos in light of the city’s large Latino population, the mayor responded: “I said from the beginning that I wasn’t looking to fill a demographic or make history. I wanted the best person for the job, and that’s Mike Moore.”
Moore, whose father was Basque and is listed as Hispanic on the department’s roster, was born in Porterville and grew up in different places throughout the United States. He graduated high school in Conway, Arkansas, moved to Southern California in 1978, and joined the LAPD in 1981.
“One of the most important questions of the moment may be, ‘Why do I want to be the next chief of police of this great city?’ And it’s pretty simple,” Moore said. “I wish to continue the momentum in building trust, particularly in communities of color, and improving public safety.”
He added that he wants to make the LAPD “more diverse and representative” while continuing to support those who work for it.
But Moore will have to work hard to win over the Black Lives Matter group, who heavily criticized Garcetti’s pick during a demonstration outside LAPD Headquarters June 5.
Abdullah and the organization pointed to two shootings a young officer Moore was involved in during the 1980s. One of the victims was killed and the other survived. Of the shootings, Abdullah said, they’re “a huge problem, especially if we talk about accountability and holding police who kill [African-American] people accountable.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents sworn officers, congratulated Moore and said it looked forward to working with him to improve the city’s safety.
“We are hopeful that if Chief Moore is appointed, he will take immediate action to address low officer morale stemming from our critically low police staffing and that he will be absolutely committed to collaborating on new ideas to reduce violent crime and prepare our city for the 2028 Olympics,” the league said in a statement.
Cedillo, after the announcement, noted that Garcetti’s pick was just a step in the process and that the City Council still needs to corroborate Moore.
“I look forward to engaging in a rigorous vetting process with my colleagues to ensure that our city and our police department’s leadership reflects the best of what our city is and can be,” Cedillo said.