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Tacoma City Council to vote on appointment of next police chief

The exterior of a building with a glass and off-white brick exterior.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press file
The headquarters for the Tacoma Police Department is shown Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Tacoma.

Tacoma is about to get a new police chief after months of interim leadership within the department. The Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night whether to confirm Avery Moore, who currently serves as assistant chief of the Investigations Bureau for the Dallas Police Department.

Moore has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years. He was selected by City Manager Elizabeth Pauli from a pool of four finalists.

Avery Moore, a Black man, wears a Dallas Police Department uniform
Courtesy of City of Tacoma
Avery Moore

If confirmed, Moore will take over a police department in transition. City leaders have vowed to make Tacoma an anti-racist city, which includes transforming the police department. That commitment comes as three of its officers are charged with murder and manslaughter in last year’s killing of Manuel Ellis, a Black man from Tacoma.

An internal investigation is still underway to decide the fate of employment for those officers and others involved in the case. The review of two of the officers is complete, but a recommendation is pending. It’s unclear how soon a decision could be made and whether or not it would fall under the authority of the new chief.

During his interviews, Moore, who is Black, outlined some of his plans for building trust with residents. He says he wants to invite trained civilians to help patrol their neighborhoods and host listening sessions with the public to have “robust” conversations about what policing should look like in Tacoma. He says community policing is non-negotiable.

“I don’t believe that you can actually impact crime significantly without the investment, the trust, the cooperation and the communication of the community,” he said in a presentation to the City Council last month.

Moore says building trust extends to the officers who work for him, too. He says he wants to motivate officers through positivity by recognizing the good work they do.

Pending confirmation, Moore will take over the Tacoma Police Department from Interim Chief Mike Ake in mid-January. He told council members that his first 90 days will include observing operations and building relationships with stakeholders, followed by developing and implementing a new plan for tackling crime in the city.

He also faces a significant number of vacancies within the ranks. Moore says the key to retaining good officers is hiring the right people.

“At the root of policing there has to be love,” he said. “You have to love this job, you have to love the people you work with, and you have to love the people you work for.”

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.