OTR Interviews

New Ferguson police chief: My challenge is to heal the divide

Delrish Moss, Ferguson, MO's first African-American police chief, goes 'On the Record' on the initial challenges he faces in his job, the source of racial tension between public and police, whether the media are fair, the Freddie Gray decision and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 23, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST:  Across the country tensions between police and communities are high. That stress is making it harder for police to do their job and keep us safe. And nearly two years ago the tensions spilled over and focused on Missouri after the shooting death of Michael Brown. 

So, how are police working to heal that divide? Ferguson, Missouri's first African-American police chief, Delrish Moss, goes ON THE RECORD. 

Good evening, chief, and congratulations on the new job.


VAN SUSTEREN: So, chief, what do you see as your first challenge on the job?

MOSS: Well, I think one of my first challenge has really been to actually go out and introduce myself to the community and work to heal some of the divides that we have seen there are several segments of the community that feel differently about police service and try to make sure that everybody knows no matter who you are and what tax base you are in, police service should be the same across the board.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why is there that divide? What provoked it?

MOSS: Well, I think there are a number of reasons that there is a divide. I think some of it is historic. Some of it has to do with some things that were discovered here in the city of Ferguson. But a lot of this has also playing to the back drop of a national narrative that also talks about where one, an incident happens in Miami and it has a bearing on what happened in Ferguson, or incidents happened in Baltimore and also has a bearing on what happens in Cincinnati. 

So, I think the part of this is historic. Part of it is system systemic, and part of it has to do with the national backdrop.

VAN SUSTEREN: Many police officers had spoken to they say they have been demonized or that they don't have the support, generally of Americans. They are feeling a little bit like a -- they are feeling a little bit like a under the weather and now the worst is how Americans are looking at them. Do you understand that? Is that true? And is that fair?

MOSS: I think I understand it because any time that you are in a profession most police officers take this job to do good. You feel like you are sailed by people who don't appreciate it. And of course there is that feeling. But I tell them to hearken back to the 1980's when I started. We would pull up to an avenue and we would take on rocks and bottles. And now you take criticism, a little bit of protest and you probably get some harsh posts on social media, so I don't think it's gotten worse. But I can understand why in the middle of battle you would feel that way.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the role of race in all of this?

MOSS: Well I think race is a big thing. The United States has historically has issues with regards to race. And so people see things differently, people view things differently. And I think that in some parts at the heart of it, we draw from human beings. And so with that, there is some bias in the way sometimes services are delivered and sometimes in the way services are perceived.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today in Baltimore, the judge in a bench trial found the police officer, one of the police officer in the Freddie Gray case not guilty on all counts. Were the police in Ferguson watching that verdict? I mean was it talked about in the police station and headquarters today?

MOSS: Well, I certainly was notified the minute that it happened. And that's because you know obviously, like I said, if something happens in Baltimore, it certainly has a bearing on how police are perceived in Ferguson and Miami, anywhere. And so yes, that was something that we talked about.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about are police treated fairly by the media in general or not or don't we get it?

MOSS: Well, that's a difficult question to ask, because it would all depend on the entity. They are a number of variables that didn't exist 20 years ago, social media, for instance. And media geared toward a particular interest. A lot of things happen now but that didn't exist before. And I think so there is a more polarized version. But there are some people in the media who get it. There are some who just don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Chief, thank you for joining us and good luck. You got a big job in front of you, sir.