Government & Politics
 

Will any NOPD veteran have the credibility to lead?

On Monday, Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu unveiled a 21-member committee that will advise him on the selection of the city’s next police superintendent. Landrieu used the opportunity to reiterate that the selection of a new top cop remains his top priority.

Landrieu and all of his campaign rivals promised to conduct a national search to find the next leader of the NOPD. The phrase “national search” has become something of a code that politicians use to softly condemn the conduct of their local police department. Federal investigators have been swarming around police headquarters and are examining several suspicious police killings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and citizens’ anger about the conduct and effectiveness of the police department has been palpable.

“Well, I think New Orleans is a happenin’ place right now,” [Landrieu] said when asked whether the federal probes might limit interest in the job. “So, I think there are a lot of people that may be very interested in being on the ground of a city that’s going to go from worst to best.”

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And though Landrieu and others have repeatedly called it a “national search,” local candidates will be considered, he said. [emphasis mine]

Would the promotion of any NOPD incumbent to the superintendent position be an acceptable choice for New Orleanians?

Would even a highly decorated and generally well-respected deputy have the public credibility to truly reform the department? Would they have the internal credibility within the department?

Today, federal prosecutors unsealed files that detail one of the most sickening stories I’ve ever read about a modern American police department. A whole coterie of officers conspired to cover up the infamous Danziger bridge incident, in which officers killed two hurricane refugees and wounded four others.

It is not clear how many people within the hierarchy of the NOPD were aware of this attempted cover-up or the extent to which NOPD district commanders or departmental deputies have intimate knowledge of any of the alleged wrongdoings of the officers on the force.

But how would the public feel about promoting someone who may have averted eyes from such systemic misconduct?

Even a saintly higher-up, one who worked slowly behind the scenes to expose the criminality of those working around him or her would really struggle to implement reforms given how famously police officers stick together on one side of the so-called thin blue line.

Would you accept a new superintendent who was promoted from within the NOPD? Do you think Mitch Landrieu is seriously considering making a local hire? Would it be inappropriate not to?

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  • jeffrey

    Absolutely we should be willing to accept the right candidate from within the current ranks. It’s an insult to the good people in the department (Yes! They do exist!) and an insult to the city in general to assume that the job can only be done by an outsider.

  • There’s some other locals to consider: the ones who don’t trust the police department, which I think is pretty much most of the city. It’s not a contradiction to recognize there are great police officers on the force yet still lack trust in the institution as a whole. It’s also not automatic that an outsider would be better, but the benefits of bringing in someone not bound by local allegiances carries obvious benefits.

  • May the best qulified candidate get this job, no matter where he or she comes from. I faithfully believe that the good people in the department (I know they exist) are ready to have some effective leadership and less damaging behavior by the bad apples that erode the credibility of the department as a whole. If that leader is in New Orleans, outstanding. If that leader is anywhere else, lets bring them here.

  • jeffrey

    Do we want a police department that works in the sense that it enforces the law without violating the privacy or dignity of the citizenry? Or do we want one that has “credibility to lead” and that “people trust”? If our goal is to run a competent police department, then obviously there is no reason to exclude competent people from within the ranks. But if our goal is to make a silly political point about “leadership” then maybe part of that point will be, “nobody who has been here their whole lives knows how to do anything right” It’s a popular mantra.

  • I agree with Jefferey, as I know personally at least 3 Nola Cops with everything we need, who you wouldn’t have found hiding under any rocks during The Flood, who are sharp to the bone, who grew up in Nola and who have got the accent to prove it.
    I know that sounds presumptuous, but know this: I hate and fear the NOPD and wouldn’t trust 80/100 of them to meet us on the level –and that realization came to me long before they RAN AWAY DURING THE FLOOD.
    However, that remaining 20%, our finest, that do pull the weight do it very well and should be running the joint.
    Thank you.

  • I don’t see someone that talented to have been hiding in the ranks for so many years while crime and the reputation of the department went to shit. Sure maybe a few good lower ranked people are in the force and could do a lot of good in higher ranks but full on chief of police? It could be possible that there is such a diamond in the rough but I’m skeptical.

    I think the new administration needs to fire not only Reilly but like everyone as high as captain and start fresh. Pull up qualified people in house to fill some spots and acquire a talented Chief who’ll properly enforce the law.

  • Superdeformed, there is Riley. And I won’t argue firing captains and above to start over.
    But as regards the diamonds in the rough I mentioned: they took an oath or whatever (assuming) to protect the city of New Orleans –not the NOPD. That is how one of them shot it back to me when I asked that very question. They said that they work for the City of New Orleans, which can get pretty complicated. They followed with this: it is one thing to witness corruption among comrades within an an armed police force, and an entirely different thing to actually get the Evidence, have the crime prosecuted and live to tell about it. That is the goddamn truth.

    I’ve been watching them since their labor strike during Mardi Gras in ’79. NOPD don’play. They didn’t give a shit for protecting the city during Mardi Gras, yet the crime rate (allegedly) dropped nearly 20% during their strike. It was one of the best Mardi Gras I’ve ever seen. They were working the bars as security.

    Often cops in general consider themselves “apart” from the citizens they serve, no matter from where you hire them.

  • ” jeffrey says:
    February 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Do we want a police department that works in the sense that it enforces the law without violating the privacy or dignity of the citizenry? Or do we want one that has “credibility to lead” and that “people trust”? If our goal is to run a competent police department, then obviously there is no reason to exclude competent people from within the ranks. But if our goal is to make a silly political point about “leadership” then maybe part of that point will be, “nobody who has been here their whole lives knows how to do anything right” It’s a popular mantra.”

    I agree with what Jeffrey said especially the last part.