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Delrish Moss

Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss in a Jan. 2, 2016, photo. (Matias J. Ocner/The Miami Herald via AP) 

FERGUSON • Maj. Delrish Moss, a former homicide detective who serves as spokesman for the Miami Police Department, has been named the new chief of police for Ferguson, the city announced late Thursday afternoon.

Moss was one of four finalists announced about a month ago to replace Thomas Jackson, who resigned after a Justice Department report strongly criticized the city’s police and municipal court practices. That report was triggered by the controversial shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson officer, setting off riots, in 2014.

“Major Moss exemplifies the type of experience in law enforcement that we believe will enhance the many new programs within the Ferguson Police Department,” City Manager De’Carlon Seewood said in a prepared statement. Seewood made the final choice.

“Our officers have worked extremely hard to implement community policing and community engagement in their daily practices,” he continued. “Mr. Moss is the right man for the job to continue those initiatives.”

In the same statement, Mayor James Knowles III called Moss “the right choice.”

The city said that from more than 54 applicants nationwide, 16 were selected to fill out a 15-page questionnaire. Six of them were interviewed by several panels of residents, officials, police executives and criminal justice experts.

That left four: Moss; Frank McCall Jr., chief in nearby Berkeley; Mark Becker, a former FBI agent who recently resigned as chief in East Chicago, Ind.; and Brenda Jones, a behavior specialist for a school in Georgia who formerly served as police chief in Pine Bluff, Ark.

Moss has been the Miami Police Department’s public voice for controversies ranging from use-of-force issues to whether officers miffed at a Super Bowl performance by Beyoncé might refuse to work security at a subsequent concert. He joined the department in 1984.

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He is president of the Miami Police Athletic League, which reaches out to youths, and is on the board of the Urban League of Greater Miami and an organization called A Safe Haven for Newborns. He also is a member of the NAACP, National Association of Black Journalists and Tender Essence Inc., which deals with issues such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse and violence.

Moss told the local National Public Radio affiliate in Miami in 2015 that unpleasant encounters with police motivated him to join the force. His active presence on social media includes a posting: “Saying that all cops are bad based on the actions of a few is as horrible a stereotype as saying all black men are bad because of a few (who) commit crime.”

A Miami Herald profile this month quoted Moss, 51, as saying that Ferguson “needs a massive recruiting drive to become more reflective of the community. You can’t tell me there are no qualified African-Americans in that community.”

It also quoted Miami Chief Rodolfo Llanes as saying, “He is an expert in police community relations and that is what that community needs now.”

Andre Anderson, of the Glendale, Ariz., police, became interim police chief in July, and left early, in December. Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff who has served stints as interim Ferguson chief, was among the applicants but not chosen as a finalist.

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