The Ferguson police department has been in turmoil since the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown—but a newly appointed police chief hopes to correct the deep-seeded wrongs. It starts with clearing the department of crooked cops, which is the new police chief's goal.
On May 9, Delrish Moss—a veteran of the Miami police department—took his oath at the Ferguson Community Center, and immediately warned corrupt police officers that abuse toward citizens won't be tolerated. In his first speech as Ferguson's first African-American police chief, Moss offered powerful words about the department he hopes to create.
"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 during his remarks. "If you fall short of that, and it's through a mistake of the head, we will work to correct that. But if you do it with malice, if you do the job in a way that disrespects the badge that you hold, I will see to it that you are either removed from police service, or further prosecuted."
These stern words are a departure from Ferguson's former chief of police, Tom Jackson, who bungled the department's investigation into Brown's death, according to the Washington Post. At that time, Jackson accused Brown of being a suspect in an alleged robbery, which he claimed led to the confrontation with former officer Darren Wilson.
Jackson resigned as chief in March 2015 after the Department of Justice released a damning report that found the police department suffered from systemic bias.
— Colorlines.com (@Colorlines) May 10, 2016
Now, Moss told the New York Times he wants to overhaul the department. His first goal is to diversify the police force to be more reflective of Ferguson's citizens. Currently, Moss said the department only has 54 police officers of color, but he wants to change that.
"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," he told the New York Times. "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."
He also wants to improve the relationship between Ferguson's youth and the police force.
"I am not talking about negative interaction; I am talking positive interaction," he told the New York Times. "I want to start a mentoring program. I want to start a Police Athletic League. I have been talking to the Do the Right Thing director here in Miami about Do the Right Thing [a youth program] coming to Ferguson."
Above all else, Moss wants the police force to regain the community's respect. He became a police officer after being harassed by them while growing up. Now, he wants to increase the respect level between his department and Ferguson folks.
"The police profession has been assailed because people have decided that there’s no longer nobility in police work," he told the Chicago Tribune. "It's our task to bring nobility back to this work and to make sure that we honor our badges, and we serve our communities with respect."
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