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Ferguson police chief leaving post in November, national search for his replacement coming

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss speaks with high school students working on a video project.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss started his job in 2016.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. on Oct. 12 with details about the police chief's departure.

Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss said Friday his last day on the will be Nov. 16. The announcement comes after officials said Wednesday that Moss would be leaving to take care of his family in Florida. Ferguson City Manager De’Carlon Seewood said Assistant Police Chief Frank McCall will be interim chief while the department holds its search for a permanent replacement.

Seewood said the city will conduct a national search for another chief. The search will include citizen input, he said, noting the importance of having a person at the helm who not only knows how to police well but also has a connection with the community.

More | On the Trail: Through turmoil and chaos, Ferguson's new police chief sees opportunity

"Ferguson is a very diverse community with people from different economic backgrounds. We want to hear from everyone," Seewood said. "Having the right person leading the police department is very important."

Moss became police chief in Ferguson in May 2016. Seewood said the search to fill the position then took about three months.

"Tremendous strides"

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the city has made efforts to become more compliant with a consent decree mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice while Moss has been police chief. The agency authorized the consent decree under President Barack Obama to address policing issues following 2014 uprisings in Ferguson.

"You'll see that the city is making tremendous strides and making a tremendous effort, you know, under the chief's leadership," Knowles said.

He continued, "So that's probably the biggest obstacle, biggest task, ahead of anybody who takes this job dealing with the federal government and their involvement, making sure we're compliant with that and then just, you know, policing in general. That our community oriented policing strategies are implemented throughout our community."

Knowles said Moss "did a great job reaching out to those disaffected groups and really made it an important part of his tenure here to bridge that gap."

The Ferguson mayor said Wednesday he was unsure of when Moss plans to leave or his plans once he moves back to Florida, when asked if he knew if Moss planned to retire or was taking on another policing position.

St. Louis Public Radio was unable to reach Moss at the time this article was posted.

Community policing

Moss came to the position after working with the Miami Police Department for 31 years, when the department was no stranger to civil unrest, riots and a consent decree of its own. After joining the department he started hosting community forums and, along with Ferguson police officers, began visiting people door-to-door.

He vowed to make community policing a priority. For example, requiring police officers to get out of their cars and engage with citizens even when they're not responding to a call or incident.

“In those positive engagements, you begin to build relationships for when things do go wrong,” Moss told St. Louis Public Radio in 2016, three months into his new job.

He also pledged to increase the number of school resource officers.

Ashley Lisenby is part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Hartford, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Portland, Oregon. Follow Ashley on Twitter @aadlisenby.

Ashley Lisenby is the news director of St. Louis Public Radio.

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