After selecting a temporary Los Angeles police chief to replace outgoing Michel Moore, the mayor and the Police Commission are setting their sights on a bigger challenge: choosing who will get the job permanently.

The names of several of the early contenders have already been circulating at City Hall and at police headquarters. Two of the supposed front-runners rose through the department’s ranks and were promoted to senior positions by Moore, while another is a longtime big-city police chief with roots in Southern California.

Mayor Karen Bass told the Times that city officials would announce in the coming days which national search firm will be used in the search for a permanent successor to Moore, who will leave office at the end of the month. Bass said she expects the hiring process to take four to six months.

Last week, the LAPD’s civilian oversight commission named Deputy Chief Dominic Choi to take over on an interim basis for Moore, who spent the past five and a half years as the city’s top cop.

“Dominic Choi will be a leader who will steady the ship,” Bass said. “He is not coming to make drastic changes, during the time he is interim, we will do an evaluation of the department and recommendations will be made for the next chief.”

When asked exactly what qualities he wanted in a new chief, Bass demurred and said he was waiting to get feedback from officers and residents. As to whether he is leaning toward appointing an internal chief or opting for an experienced outsider who can take the department in another direction, Bass said he was waiting to let the search process play out. He said he planned to tour “every station or office” and hear from officers “about what they want to see in the next chief.”

“Not who, but what, and just collecting what they have to say,” he said. “And we are going to give this information to the search company.”

Bass said his deputy mayor for community safety, Karren Lane, is finalizing a survey with UCLA researchers to ask what the community expects from its police chief. The results will be published in the coming weeks. Commission and city leaders are likely to embark on a listening tour, incorporating input from virtual and in-person meetings into the search.

While he expects the LAPD to attract top candidates from across the country, Bass said the market for police executives is “tight” with openings in Oakland, San Diego and other large California cities.

Although Bass likely won’t receive a list of finalists for several months, there is already speculation about who will take over the nation’s third-largest police department. Two people believed to be early favorites are current senior staff members Deputy Chief Blake Chow and Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides. Another is an outsider, Art Acevedo, who has led police departments in Austin and Houston in Texas and, briefly, in Miami.

Another name mentioned early on was Bill Scott, who left the LAPD in 2017 for his current role as San Francisco police chief. Scott told the San Francisco Standard last month that he was “not interested” in taking the LAPD job. He did not immediately respond to a voicemail from the Times seeking comment.

If Tingirides or Acevedo got the job, they would mark a historic first. In the case of Tingirides, the city has never had a woman as its chief. Acevedo would be the first Latino to lead the now majority-Latino force.

“I absolutely believe the city is ready to have its first female boss,” said Bass, the first woman elected mayor. She added that any candidate will be evaluated based on criteria established during the search process. “We have a fire chief who is excellent and a police chief would be welcome. And when I talk to officers, I don’t hear concern about a female boss. In other words, I’ve heard support from a lot of different officials on this.”

At the end of the process, the commission will interview some of the top contenders, before narrowing the list to three. Bass can choose one from the list or ask the commission to do more legwork and propose more names. Whoever nominates Bass will have to be confirmed by the City Council. Another powerful voice in the decision will be the two unions that represent the department’s rank-and-file and command staff.

Tingirides was promoted to deputy chief in 2020 and put in charge of the LAPD’s signature community policing program, which seeks to improve relations with residents of the developments. Last fall, Moore dispatched Tingirides to take over the busy South Bureau, a transfer widely considered to give her the operational experience needed to one day become chief.

Chow joined the Los Angeles police in 1990 and now oversees traffic, detective and counterterrorism bureaus. Until his promotion last fall, he worked as deputy chief in charge of five West Side police precincts and the LAX Field Services Division. He is also part of the planning group for the 2028 Olympics, one of several major sporting events the city will host in the coming years.

Bass said he wants “a department leader who is absolutely committed to community policing to understand the value of having partners, for example, when it comes to mental health.”

Bass said he is also looking for someone who recognizes emergencies where armed police are not the best response and who is willing to work with service providers to reach the people most in need.

Choi is scheduled to officially begin his role as interim chief on March 1. On Tuesday, the commission approved his annual salary of $397,163, a 10% increase over his previous salary. The current salary range for the permanent job starts at $275,198 with a cap of just under $483,000.

LAPD observers say the chief job requires a top-level police executive, one who has the skill set necessary to manage, motivate and hold accountable more than 10,000 employees, while overseeing a multimillion-dollar budget and navigating a series of complex political situations and racial issues.

Other challenges, such as recruiting and retaining officers, are a universal concern among police agencies, according to Edgardo “Eddie” García, Dallas police chief and president of the Big Cities Police Chiefs Association. Being a top cop in Los Angeles requires not only understanding the department’s place in history, but also “knowing the political landscape regarding criminal justice reform that California has experienced.”

“If the department has a solid foundation, I think someone internal could continue that,” Garcia said. “If adjustments need to be made, or if what the city wants is an outside perspective, then I think there is a different way.”

The last two chiefs were promoted from the department’s ranks, and the LAPD has rarely gone beyond the department to hire a chief. Perhaps the most notable was William Bratton, a brash East Coaster who was appointed in 2002 and oversaw a series of reforms when the department was under a federal consent decree.

Like Bratton, any outsider will have to surround himself with the right senior staff and get up to speed quickly, said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who chairs the City Council’s public safety committee.

“It all depends on how the mayor decides the process will be,” Rodríguez said. “To me, it’s a combination of understanding the community that this department will also serve, which is also majority Latino.”

Outside the town hall and the police station, the search for the boss shrugs his shoulders.

Pastor Cue Jn-Marie of the Church Without Walls, which does outreach in the Skid Row area, said: “It doesn’t matter who the boss is; “trust has been eroded over decades with the LAPD and law enforcement in general.”

Jn-Marie, who has often spoken at public meetings about what he sees as a sharp return under Moore to more aggressive tactics that disproportionately affect black and brown Angelenos, said the outgoing chief was no different from his predecessors, who did not They managed to “think about a holistic way to keep the city safe.”

By Sam