Ferguson, Missouri has appointed its first black police chief, and one of his first orders of business is diversifying the city’s predominantly white department staff.

Delrish Moss, who previously served as Miami PD spokesman, will be sworn in today, filling the seat left vacant by former Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson. Interim Chief Andre Anderson, who is black, ran the department before resigning in December.

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Following the murder of Mike Brown in 2014—after which a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson—a Justice Department investigation uncovered multiple instances of criminal “racial bias” in Ferguson. The findings led to Jackson’s resignation in 2015.

Moss, who was hired as a Miami police officer in 1984 and has a deep background in public relations, has stated plans to launch a mentorship program and increase diversity, noting that only 3 or 4 of the department’s 54 officers are black.

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“The department now has very few females in sworn positions,” Moss told The New York Times. “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. But what I’ll be looking at is how we do things with attrition, and other things that naturally occur, that cause officers not to be in the department anymore.”

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Besides the D.O.J. report, in a recent documentary about excessive military force in Ferguson, a cop reports being told to “make the jail dark.” As part of his mission, Moss says he wants FPD to have better engagement with young people in the area.

“I noticed that along certain racial lines there were different views of the police,” Moss told NYT, making a vast understatement. “Some people thought the police were great in their neighborhoods, some people thought police weren’t so great. But I don’t think it’s as tense a powder keg as it’s been perceived to be.”

He adds, “I took this job for a specific reason. I have said it time and again: I was mistreated by police officers. I saw the way police officers acted in my community. I was determined to be a better service provider than I had gotten. The biggest challenge is that, ingrained in the American fabric there is a disconnect between the African-American community and the police department.”


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