FERGUSON, Mo. -- Miami police veteran Delrish Moss was sworn in Monday as Ferguson's first black permanent police chief in a ceremony witnessed by dozens of residents and law enforcement officers.
Moss, who held the rank of major in Miami, takes over a department wracked by the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. The Justice Department later accused Ferguson police of racial bias and of ticketing residents in order to generate revenue for the city, prompting the resignation of the previous chief, Tom Jackson.
“The new position is going to offer some challenges,” Moss, 51, told The Huffington Post.
“I’ve been training for Ferguson my entire life. I’ve lived in a neighborhood where we had civil unrest. As a person living there, I saw the unique challenges that come about. And a few years later, I was police officer, where we also had civil unrest and I was a young police officer responding to it,” Moss said.
Following Jackson's resignation, Ferguson hired Andre Anderson as interim chief -- the first African-American to be appointed to the position. Anderson signed a six-month contract, but resigned a month early.
Moss was selected from 54 applicants. He grew up in Miami and joined the police force when he was 20, rising from patrolman to stints in narcotics, homicide and public communications. His most recent job as senior executive assistant combined public information with community relations, he said.
In addition to Ferguson residents and officers, Moss' swearing-in ceremony was attended by more than two dozen friends, family members and former co-workers.
Jeron Forshee, 38, a cousin who has lived in the St. Louis region for seven years, said he warned Moss of the area's racial divide.
"In Miami, it’s not a melting pot -- it’s almost like a salad bowl,” Forshee said. He added: "In St. Louis, basically you have the African-American population over here, then you have the caucasians.”
Moss said the “easiest way” to distance the police department from racial bias and predatory ticketing “is to harken back to" the basics of policing.
“The priority of policing is to make for a safer community,” Moss said. “We’re not designed to make a profit. Government is not designed to make a profit.”
Miami Sgt. Allan Davis, who has known Moss for 28 years, said Moss will make an outstanding leader.
“With our race, we’re always presented with challenges, no matter what the job is," Davis said. "It’s just another one. We continue to rise to the occasion.”
Though Moss leaves his hometown and many family members, he said he’ll be in Ferguson “for the long haul.”
“One of the things I learned as soon as I got here is that the people of Ferguson are very proud of being from Ferguson," Moss said. "That to me is a good thing because that makes me feel like I’m home. I’m home.“