MIAMI - Maj. Delrish Moss didn't just decide to become a police officer. He said the profession called to him.
"It seemed like a calling," Moss, a respected officer of the Miami Police Department, said during a news conference Thursday.
Moss's calling to protect his community will now take him to Ferguson, Missouri, where he has been selected as the new police chief.
"Change doesn't come easily, but I think I'm ready for that challenge," he said.
Moss first began working for the Miami Police Department as a public service aide in 1984. He was scheduled to retire from the Miami Police Department in September.
Instead of hanging up his badge, Moss will take the reins of a department that has been scrutinized for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot by white Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. Wilson was not prosecuted in that shooting, and riots ensued.
"I lived in a place where riots took place," Moss said, referring to his growing up in Miami. "And then shortly after that, I was a police officer on the other side of that line."
Moss said he became a police officer after feeling harassed as a young man by two Miami officers who stopped and frisked him. One of the officers called Moss the N-word.
"I wanted to provide to my community better service than I was getting," Moss said.
Moss, who is known for his level head and inviting demeanor, will start his new role by making the community part of the dialogue and diversifying the department.
A total of 54 candidates had applied for the job in a city of just more than 20,000 mostly black residents near St. Louis.
Moss said he will bring his experiences from Miami with him to his new role.
"If we're transparent, if we're persistent, if we're listening, I think we stand a good chance of moving forward," he said.
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