Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Ferguson Chief Has No 'Magic Pill' for Curing City's Problems

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Ferguson Chief Has No 'Magic Pill' for Curing City's Problems

Article excerpt

FERGUSON * The day he was sworn in as Ferguson's new chief, Delrish Moss said that his pursuit of a high-ranking position in a police department had a personal motivation: He wanted to fire bad cops like the ones who abused him.

Moss took the oath of office at the Ferguson Community Center on Monday in front of a crowd of about 150 people, including city residents and police from other departments in the region as well as a handful of officers from Moss' previous employer, the Miami Police Department.

Then, in his first remarks to Ferguson officers as their new boss, Moss delivered a stern warning.

"If you work hard, if you stay honest and committed, if you maintain respect for the community and do your job well, we will get along just fine," he said. "If you fall short of that, and it's through a mistake of the head, we will work to correct that. But if you do it with malice, if you do the job in a way that disrespects the badge that you hold, I will see to it that you are either removed from police service, or further prosecuted."

Moss' speech lasted less than five minutes, but it was met with a standing ovation.

As Ferguson's chief, Moss confronts significant challenges: budget problems, officers who may resist change and the hundreds of provisions in a U.S. Department of Justice agreement to which the department must adhere.

"I don't think I come in here offering some magic pill or magic solution curing all the problems of Ferguson," Moss said.

He was driven to become an officer after negative run-ins with officers in his youth, Moss said, including once when an officer shoved him against a wall. Another time an officer used a racial slur when referring to Moss.

Moss said he decided the best way to change things was from within.

Budget cuts

In Ferguson, Moss will have limited resources with which to work.

City Manager De'Carlon Seewood said the department budgeted for 67 people was down 11 employees, and the city has decided to not fill those positions. The decision was made after a property tax increase failed at the polls in April and the city discovered that municipal court revenue is estimated to be nearly $500,000 less than expected for this fiscal year.

Other cuts are likely, Seewood said, but those haven't been decided.

Moss got his first taste on Monday night of the protests that have kept police busy in Ferguson for the past 20 months. He came out to chat with about 50 people who gathered in front of the police station, which also houses its municipal court. Some of them came to welcome him and presented him with a gift basket that included an "I Love Ferguson" T-shirt.

But others were there to protest city police and court policies and to demand that officials fire Stephanie Karr, who has served as prosecutor and city attorney. …

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