1 of 8 | Delrish Moss takes the oath of office from Judge Donald L. McCullin as the new police chief for the city of Ferguson, Mo., on Monday. Moss, a 32 year veteran of the Miami Police Department, became the department's first permanent African-American police chief. After his swearing-in, Moss said, "Let's get to work." Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
FERGUSON, Mo., May 9 (UPI) -- The new chief of police in Ferguson, Mo., didn't waste any time at his swearing-in ceremony Monday before voicing his sentiment about the challenge that now lies in front of him: "Let's get to work."
Delrish Moss formally became the troubled Missouri town's first African American police chief Monday morning and swore to bring "nobility" to his department -- perhaps a tall order after nearly two years of turmoil that has followed the controversial shooting of Michael Brown.
Moss, who retired from the Miami Police Department last week to take the new job, replaces Tom Jackson, who resigned last year after federal investigations into the shooting concluded there was a racial bias in the town's criminal justice system.
For months after Brown's death, there was some question whether the Ferguson Police Department could be rehabilitated and who should lead that effort. In fact, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last year that the entire police force could be scrapped if it was deemed a lost cause.
Monday, Moss had a message for his new subordinates.
"If you work hard, if you stay honest and committed, if you maintain respect for the community and do your job well, we will get along just fine," he said, also acknowledging city leaders' "faith" and the townspeople for the opportunity.
It was announced in March that Moss had been chosen for the job.
Moss, 51, interviewed for the post during a visit to Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, earlier this year. He was selected as one of four finalists -- along with East Chicago, Ind., police chief Mark Becker; Macon, Ga., Charter Academy behavior specialist Brenda Jones; and Berkeley, Mo., police chief Frank McCall Jr.
Rioters turn over a police car during a demonstration in Ferguson, Mo., on November 24, 2014, after a grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown three months earlier. Photo by Lawrence Bryant/UPI
In March, the city also accepted recommended reforms by the Justice Department and settled the suit.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Moss stated his desire to see more diversity in the Ferguson department. He said that lack of minorities and women could be a product of "biases in the hiring practice and how they're selective -- or it could be that their recruitment efforts are not up to par in terms of diversification."
"The department now has very few females in sworn positions. There's, I think, a total of 54 police officers, and I think three or four African-Americans," he added. "There won't be a magic pill, when I suddenly go from this amount of African-Americans, this amount of women or this amount of whatever to this."
Moss also said another of his goals in Ferguson is to increase positive interaction between residents and the police force.
"I want to start a mentoring program. I want to start a Police Athletic League. I have been talking to the [youth program] Do the Right Thing director in Miami about Do the Right Thing coming to Ferguson," he said. "I want to move forward. I don't really want to re-litigate the Michael Brown situation, but I will be looking at that situation top to bottom to see what lessons can be learned."
A grand jury investigation previously cleared the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, but the Department of Justice concluded that its investigation exposed multiple troubling aspects of the city's department.