City Council takes steps for national police chief search

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 7:42 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -The New Orleans City Council takes steps to ensure a national search for a new police chief.

Council members say the issue is too critical, not to consider the best candidates available from across the country.

When Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced Michelle Woodfork as the city’s new interim police chief, she said this about a national search for a permanent replacement.

" I’m abandoning, not embracing a national search...but let me tell you where that focus going to be... it’s going to be on leadership from within,” Cantrell said.

Many observers, including city council members, were confused about the lack of commitment to a national search, and that’s creating concern Among many, including members of the recently created Nola coalition, a group of over 100 local business and civic leaders, whose aim is to assist in the fight against crime.

“We really believe the next superintendent should come from a national search and the candidate could be within the ranks here,” said coalition member Richard Cortizas.


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Now the Council is taking action.

“We wrote a letter to PERF signed by all seven members of the council, saying we have an interim chief right now and we want to make sure we’re looking at all of our talent, local and national and we want PERF to help us,” said New Orleans city councilmember Joe Giarrusso.

PERF is the Police Executive Research Forum... used by cities across the country to search and recruit candidates for executive leadership positions.

Council’s letter to PERF states,’ We are united in ensuring that an inclusive fair and transparent national search be undertaken.’

The letter also points out newly acquired council powers stating, ’Through the City Council’s appointment confirmation process of the new NOPD chief, we affirm that perf’s recommendations will be taken with the highest consideration.’

A national police chief search will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars; at this point, it’s unclear who will pay for it. Either way, Giarrusso says it needs to be done.

“With as much money as we have and everything the coalition has done, the city should contribute; that way, we are in control of the process,” said Giarrusso.

Giarrusso says PERF is well-suited to help the city find a permanent chief, due to a local connection. Former New Orleans police chief Michael Harrison is the chairman of the PERF board.

“It gives me more comfort to know that there is an agency that is truly independent and there’s a native son who is chair of the board they will do their job correctly and in the best interest of the city,” said Giarrusso.

With the city’s high crime rate, city council members and others say failure is not an option.

Giarrusso hopes to get a response from perf on the council’s request to get involved in the chief search, shortly after the first of the year.

We reached out to the mayor’s office on the council’s request for PERF to get involved in the search, but have not heard back.

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