Dominic Choi was unanimously appointed as the interim chief for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) by L.A.’s Board of Police Commissioners on Wednesday, Feb. 7. His role will officially begin on Mar. 1, and Choi will be the first Asian American chief the LAPD has ever seen. For the next six to nine months, he will oversee the department until the LAPD finds a permanent replacement, especially with the upcoming 2026 World Cup and 2028 Olympics.

The interim position Dominic Choi has taken up comes after the unexpected retirement of LAPD’s current Chief of Police Michael Moore. After facing intense scrutiny and criticism over the department’s actions during the pandemic and various protests, Moore is voluntarily stepping down at the end of February but will remain in the LAPD as a “consultant” to Choi per L.A. mayor Karen Bass’s request. Chief Moore elaborated that Dominic Choi “possesses a comprehensive combination of extensive knowledge” of department operations and “extraordinary people skills and team building capabilities.”

During a press conference, Choi said that he was “very happy to be the first Korean American interim chief,” but he still vows to “represent all communities within the city.” He promised to make sure that public safety is conducted “equally and inclusively” to ensure LAPD is not “soiling the communities.”

Mayor Bass congratulated Choi on his promotion, thanking him for his willingness to take up the position while Erroll Southers, the L.A. Police Commission president, explained that Choi’s interview for the position made it “clear that he was the best person to lead the Los Angeles Police Department into the next chapter.”

Choi is the Korean American son of two Korean immigrants. He joined the LAPD in 1995, served for 28 years, and was appointed as assistant chief in 2021. With his upcoming role as police chief, Choi will have jurisdiction over 8,959 officers and 2,618 civilian employees and is ultimately accountable for utilizing the LAPD’s resources to effectively and efficiently maintain the city of Los Angeles. Most importantly, Dominic Choi serves as a trailblazer for Asian Americans in a federal position that has never seen its fair share of diversity.

As of 2021, Asian Americans make up less than 3 percent of police chiefs nationwide, a tremendously lower percentage than the number of Black/African American (9.9 percent), Hispanic Latino (13.6 percent) and white police chiefs (68.8 percent). This disproportionality gives heavy significance to Choi’s promotion, as it brings attention to and advocates for the increased diversity in police leadership throughout the country.

In the midst of today’s turbulent social climate, having a law enforcement that embodies a sense of community is essential. Over half of the L.A. population consists of minorities, so a police department that accurately reflects this demographic builds trust between the people and police. There is a shared understanding of backgrounds, culture and identity, which in turn leads to increased cooperation and cultural competence. More importantly, bridging this gap significantly improves the LAPD’s ability to fulfill its timeless promise and motto: “To Protect and to Serve.”

Beyond the LAPD’s mission, Choi’s promotion serves as a reminder to UCLA and the greater L.A. area about the importance of constantly advocating for equity and representation. Although UCLA is already a mixing pot of various cultures and ethnicities, it is imperative that the student body continues to strive for inclusion and diversity, especially in leadership positions. Daniel Choi’s milestone is just one step in this direction, and the students of UCLA and Angelenos should have confidence in Choi’s ability to provide safety and equity to the people.

Visual Credit: Ken Kistler

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