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Interim Chief Dominic Choi opts out of LAPD’s full-time chief race, focuses on stability

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LAPD Interim Chief Dominic Choi emphasized that his main task is to ensure the department’s stable operations until a new chief is appointed, rather than to innovate or change the department. At the same time, he vowed to faithfully fulfill his duties, highlighting the significant task entrusted to him thanks to the interest and support of the Korean-American community.

LA Mayor Karen Bass also attended the interview with Choi, which took place immediately after the press conference.

LAPD Interim Chief Dominic Choi is shaking hands with Mayor Karen Bass during a press conference at City Hall on February 7. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]
On June 30, 2021, the then-promoted LAPD Assistant Chief poses for a photo with his family and Chief Michel Moore (left) during a badge presentation ceremony. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

The following is an edited excerpt from the interview

-How do you feel about becoming the first Korean-American (Interim) Chief of LAPD?
“I’m very excited. I am very proud and honored to represent the Korean-American community. But as an Interim Chief, I will take care of and communicate with all communities. All L.A. residents are my clients.”

(Mayor Bass) “I hope the appointment of Choi shows that City Hall is open to the Korean-American community. I’m grateful that Choi is taking on the job because he has the skills and experience.”

-What is your first role as Interim Chief?
“My job is not to reform, but to create a stable environment for officers to work in. The strategic plan is already in place.”

-What is the biggest challenge LAPD is facing?
“Getting more qualified officers. We’re still about 1,100 officers short. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that the barriers to hire are not high and the time to hire is not long. Recently, the number of female officers has increased slightly, which is encouraging. At the same time, there have been many protests this year due to the election and war. We will work together to formulate and enforce countermeasures.”

-Why did Choi not run for full-time LAPD Chief?
(Mayor Bass) “When we were appointing the interim director, I asked Choi, ‘Why didn’t you apply for the permanent position?’ and he said, ‘I didn’t want to.’ To be clear, the conditions for the interim chief are the same as the full-time chief. We trusted and believed in Choi, and that’s why we gave him the interim Chief position. It is for the stability of the organization that we limit the interim chief’s eligibility to run for the full-time Chief position.”

(Choi) “I have my own plans. I will still be standing here as a police officer when the interim director’s duty is over. I will still listen to the Korean-American community. Don’t worry.”

-Did you have a minority or Asian chief in mind for the interim chief?
(Mayor Bass) “First, the Police Board of Commissions makes a list of candidates and discusses them together. The big question was who would be the leader to make the city safe, and Chief Choi was at the top of the list. Not because he’s Korean or Asian, but because of his 28 years of outstanding service.”

-Korean Americans are still concerned about hate crimes.
“We have been emphasizing reporting. Fortunately, the number of reports has increased recently, and we are working on a response plan. We receive daily reports of hate crimes via email and keep track of them. We ask for the continued cooperation from the public.”

BY BRIAN CHOI, JUNHAN PARK    [ichoi@koreadaily.com]