New Orleans mayor names city’s first female NOPD superintendent to serve as interim

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 10:31 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2022 at 11:42 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After weeks of speculation, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has named an interim NOPD Superintendent to replace Shaun Ferguson, who is retiring.

Cantrell tapped Captain Michelle Woodfork Tuesday (Dec. 20) morning in a press conference. She becomes the first female police superintendent in the history of the force effective Thursday, Dec. 22.

“I have been in the weeds and at the core of this engagement,” Cantrell said of the decision to name Woodfork interim police superintendent.

Cantrell says that she was in constant contact with all levels of the force in the process of the selection.

Woodfork is a 30-year veteran of the force and niece of former NOPD Superintendent Warren Woodfork. She has years of experience in management services and at the police academy.

Cantrell described Woodfork as a “legacy”.

“First of all I want to thank God,” Woodfork said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I also want to thank Mayor Cantrell for trusting my leadership and three decades of service.”

Woodfork also spoke of her pride as she accepts the historic appointment, noting her family’s history within the force and serving the community she is a native of. She says she will serve with “honesty and integrity”.


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As far as making a permanent choice, the mayor will need the approval of the City Council if she hired a permanent replacement after Jan. 1.

The City Council has asked the mayor to consider candidates after Jan. 1 so that they will be allowed to give input on a new hire. For this process, they’ve recommended a national search.

Dillard University criminologist Ashraf Esmail, Ph.D, has also suggested that since citizen concerns with the overall crime rate are spiking, a national search would be in the city’s best interest.

“I think there should be a national search but that doesn’t mean you can’t consider internal candidates; they can be part of the national search,” said Esmail. “I think you want to be thorough, in terms, of your evaluation at any entity, including NOPD, in terms of finding the right person with the right credentials with the right vision.”

Outgoing Superintendent Ferguson says that he will assist in a transition in any way that he can.

“Whomever is selected I will be here to assist them during their transition, while on the job and even after leaving the job,” said Ferguson.

He took the helm of the police department in 2019 and joined the NOPD 24 years ago. But after battling a stubborn violent crime problem, Ferguson has decided to retire. He says Mayor Latoya Cantrell did not force him to leave and that his decision is rooted in his desire to spend more time with his family.

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