Delrish Moss, Ferguson, Mo.’s new police chief, took the oath of office May 9, 2016.
NBC News Screenshot

Ferguson, Mo., swore in its first African-American police chief Monday, and although the new chief had been ready for retirement, after seeing the unrest caused in the wake of Michael Brown's death, he said that he felt a calling to take this job and help restore order.

"My plan was to retire in September and actually spend a lot of time just hanging out on the beach, be a beach bum, because I've had responsibility all my life," Police Chief Delrish Moss told the Associated Press.


"But there was something about Ferguson that sort of harkened back to the days in Miami when I was a kid living in a riot-torn neighborhood and when I was a young police officer dealing with civil unrest. There was something that called to me and said, 'You have to get up. You can't sit on the couch. You've got to get out there and offer your perspective,' " Moss said.

Moss was sworn in as police chief Monday at the Ferguson Community Center in front of city residents, officers from other nearby departments and even a handful of officers from the Miami Police Department, with which Moss spent over 30 years.

Then Moss stepped up and delivered an impassioned speech that clearly spoke to the Ferguson of now and the Ferguson that Moss wants the city to become.


"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, referring to Ferguson police officers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"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 knows that the city is facing large challenges: budget problems, officers reluctant to change, and all of the compliance orders in an agreement made between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice.


In March 2015, the Justice Department found that Ferguson police had a history of "racial bias and profiling, and a municipal court that generated profits off of court fines and legal fees," WPTV reports.

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

Moss said that he is fully aware of the job that lies ahead, noting that his own drive to become an officer was spawned out of negative run-ins with officers in his youth.


"I've been on the receiving end of police officers hurling racial slurs at you," Moss told WPTV. "I understand how it feels."

Moss said he believes that this allows him a sensitivity to do the job that is needed in Ferguson. It is his calling.

"I think this is a job based on my previous career that I've been training my entire life for," he told CNN.