Asian American named as interim chief of police in Los Angeles

For the first time, an Asian American will serve as chief of police in Los Angeles.

Dominic H. Choi, who was serving as assistant chief of police, was unanimously appointed Wednesday by the Board of Police Commissioners as interim chief. 

The board commended Choi for his “vast experience.”

“He is a well-respected leader within the Department and the community, known for his vast knowledge and measured decision making,” the board said in a statement.

“The Police Commission is confident he is uniquely qualified to steward the Department into its next chapter and will lead the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department until a permanent Chief of Police is selected.”

Choi, the son of Korean immigrants, began his police career in 1995. Working patrol assignments for multiple departments, he was promoted to captain in the Foothill and Pacific Areas in 2014.

After his appointment, Choi recognized the history he made and promised to represent the entirety of LA. 

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

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (D) applauded Choi’s appointment this week. 

“This appointment will continue our work to make Los Angeles safer,” Bass said in a statement. “Interim Chief Choi’s more than 28 years of service to this City as a member of the police department put him in a unique position to not only lead, but to grow and improve our department.”

Choi’s appointment comes among increased scrutiny of the department. 

Under former Chief Michel Moore, concerns about the department’s use of excessive force and police killings of civilians spread.

Choi, however, said he has never used deadly force in the 28 years he’s been an officer. 

Though now retired, Moore will remain as a consultant for the department, according to the Associated Press.

Moore had promised to increase the diversity of the police department to reflect the nation’s second largest city. 

Los Angeles has a population that is more than 48 percent Hispanic or Latino, 41 percent white, 8.6 percent Black and 11.8 percent Asian, according to the 2022 Census. 

Of the 8,975 sworn personnel, the department reports, 54 percent are of Hispanic descent, 25 percent are white, nearly 9 percent are Black and 8 percent are Asian American.

Choi will assume the position of interim Chief of Police on March 1. He will remain in the position for the next six to nine months as the mayor and police commission search for a permanent replacement. 

Choi is not allowed to put his own name forth for the permanent position, but promised a smooth transition for whomever is selected. 

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