Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore emailed officers over the weekend to say that he was sorry for some of the public statements he’d made following protests about policing and he pledged to do better.
“I apologize to those of you who I failed by my actions or words,” Moore wrote. “I believed in my heart each action was the right thing to do.”
The Chief told NBC4 in an interview late Monday that he hadn’t intended for the message to become public.
“I believe in every word I put on there,” he said. “It's a privilege to serve the people of this department. It's a privilege to serve the people of Los Angeles. And I believe that we have brighter times ahead of us, when we pull together.”
Moore’s email was sent after the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents most officers, published in its “The Blue Line” newsletter the results of a survey that showed low morale and little confidence in leadership in the city’s response to calls for “defunding” the police department.
The survey results showed some 90% of the officers who responded said they would retire immediately if they were able, and 86% said they felt unsupported by the Chief.
Moore had also seen the responses to a private, internal LAPD survey conducted in July that asked employees to describe how they believed the department had responded to demonstrations and how the LAPD could “re-imagine” itself.
“There are things that I wish I could go back in time and do over,” Moore wrote. “But life doesn’t work that way. When one falls short, you get back up and strive to do better. That’s my commitment.”
The internal LAPD survey results, obtained by NBC News, showed that many officers were frustrated with Moore and other City officials for, in their view, failing to stand up for the good conduct of most LAPD officers when responding to criticism of police behavior and the calls for "defunding" police.
“A mess. We have no true direction,” one anonymous response said. “We are not living up to our leadership capabilities. Caving into what the public wants to hear.”
“We are embarrassed with our command staff,” said another response.
“Although law enforcement has had its negative history, LAPD has greatly improved,” wrote another officer. “We have so many programs to help the public and yet we are being treated as though we as a whole are evil.”
Many of the responses criticized Moore for not publicly insisting that there was a difference between officers in other departments accused of wrongdoing, such as the four Minneapolis officers charged with killing George Floyd, and the LAPD.
Other survey responses urged the LAPD to cut back on what was described as a "top heavy" command staff, where too many high-ranking officers, who sometimes have little experience with the roles of the officers they supervise, give unclear, inconsistent direction.
“We are lost as a profession,” another officer wrote. “We are all judged as one. If we have one corrupt officer in NY, we are all corrupt in LA.”
“There needs to be a national standard for policing in America,” the officer continued. “We are only as good as our weakest officer. The profession has taken a turn for the worst [sic] because an incident is judged by a couple seconds of video that goes out to the world on social media.”
Moore said in his email that he would be more vocal with LA’s elected leaders and the public about the achievements of the LAPD.
“Cops count and your work each day matters as you strive to protect and serve the people of this City,” he said. “The pace of reform and the evolution of American policing have quickened and will be led by the members of the Los Angeles Police Department. You deserve to hear that more.”
“We face many challenges today, and the future remains chaotic and uncertain,” Moore wrote. “I am certain there is no other Department in America more capable of meeting these challenges because of you. The people I have the privilege to serve.”
A number of officers who read Moore’s email told NBCLA, on condition of their own anonymity, that while the message appeared heartfelt, it was too late.
“The letter reads as sincere but I think it falls short,” said one officer with more than two decades of experience.
“During the summer when he had an opportunity to publicly support us -- and take a risk by standing up to the Mayor and Council -- he went the other way. That’s why the rank and file feel betrayed,” said another.