Missouri

He was named Ferguson police chief after the riots. He’s returning to Miami to work at FIU.

Miami Police Major Delrish Moss was among the Miami police officials who announced the arrest of Willie “Pee Wee” Wilcher, 35, outside of a City Market store in Liberty City in this Herald file photo.
Miami Police Major Delrish Moss was among the Miami police officials who announced the arrest of Willie “Pee Wee” Wilcher, 35, outside of a City Market store in Liberty City in this Herald file photo. Miami Herald Staff

Delrish Moss, a decades-long fixture in Miami law enforcement circles who left three years ago to fix the troubled Ferguson, Missouri, police department, has returned home.

Moss, 54, was named a captain with the Florida International University Police Department on Thursday and will oversee daytime patrol and act as the department’s public information officer — a job he was universally praised for while he served in Miami.

Moss left Miami in 2016 to join Ferguson as its police chief, just two years after riots that were viewed around the world tore the small town outside of St. Louis into bitter factions. Weeks of rioting erupted in 2014 after a white cop shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown, who the officer said had approached his vehicle in a threatening manner.

The riots flared up several months later when a grand jury decided against indicting Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown. A subsequent civil rights lawsuit filed against Ferguson by the U.S. Department of Justice claimed that Ferguson police were interfering with free expression and that traffic stops of mostly black men were done without legal justification.

In Moss’ almost three years at the helm in Ferguson, violent crime dropped more than 20 percent and he transformed what had been an almost exclusively white male department into one filled with minorities and women, more representative of the city’s demographic makeup.

“I think it made a big difference,” said Moss. “When I left we were walking beats all over the city and getting a great reception.”

Moss, born and raised in Miami’s Overtown, joined Miami’s police department in 1984 as a public service aide. Three years later he was patrolling the streets of Overtown, Liberty City, Allapattah and Coconut Grove. By 1989, he was a homicide detective.

In 1995 he became the main spokesman for the police department and was at the forefront of several high profile events like the 2000 raid of Cuban rafter Elian Gonzalez’s family’s Little Havana home and the death of Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr., in the Miami Herald lobby in 2005. By 2011, Moss was promoted to a major in the department.

Moss said he took the FIU job as a new challenge.

“I’ve policed in a major city and in Ferguson,” said Moss. “This is a different type of policing, an opportunity to expand my horizons.”

Chuck Rabin, writing news stories for the Miami Herald for the past three decades, covers cops and crime. Before that he covered the halls of government for Miami-Dade and the city of Miami. He’s covered hurricanes, the 2000 presidential election and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. On a random note: Long before those assignments, Chuck was pepper-sprayed covering the disturbances in Miami the morning Elián Gonzalez was whisked away by federal authorities.
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