To: Mayor Latoya Cantrell
The officers and members of Women on the Move, Women Standing Up Organization enthusiastically exercise our rights of freedom of speech in support of Warren Riley to lead the City of New Orleans Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. At this crucial point in New Orleans, and with hurricane season upon us, we feel that this is a vital position in need of immediate filling, and your decision to fill this position with former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, Warren Riley is the right decision as we believe he is uniquely qualified by his resume of experience as a current U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Coordinating Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and as the former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In the horrific after-math of Hurricane Katrina, Riley inherited an abandoned and rapidly disintegrating NOPD wrought with police cover-ups, desertions, lootings, misconduct, shootings and violence. Due to the ravages of intense citywide flooding, many Police Officers lost their homes; work-place buildings were inaccessible, as well as patrol cars were destroyed. As many as two hundred and fifty (250) police officers were undocumented and unable to be contacted or found. Subsequently, Riley fired eighty (87) plus Officers for desertion and another fifty (50) or so resigned under the weight of the desertion investigation. While several other Officers simply left the NOPD for various reasons ranging from other employment opportunities to relocation, Warren Riley took the reins after the departure of the former chief, during this tumultuous time to protect the Citizens of New Orleans but mostly importantly our City as a whole.
With the appointment as NOPD Superintendent, Riley was charged with the humongous task of fixing a demoralized Police Force and Department. Not an easy task when considered with the massive nature of police corruption and cover-up consistent during this time period which included the police shootings on the Danziger Bridge and other incidents before and after. Our City experience a broken trust with NOPD as a result of these incidents, however, the segment of the community that we represent has never enjoyed a trust of NOPD and our level of distrust spans decades, even hundreds of years. You see, the history of New Orleans, Louisiana is no different than other metropolitan areas across America. Where far too often, people of color are dying at the hands of Police and indictments as well as convictions are rare or essentially nonexistent.
Hence, we understand and empathizes with families and victims of police misconduct. We view rogue and unlawful attacks against one of us by the police as an attack against all of us. We have not, do not and will not tolerate acts of brutality or violence against our community by anyone. In fact, as an essential component of our groups’ community advocacy we challenged the Superintendent and the Mayor in public specifically about each case of police inappropriateness to ensure their responses were recorded. Further, we organized and protested around these issues and others as well as called for a community based investigative unit to address police misconduct.
Viewed within the above context and after all due consideration we believe Warren Riley is not a part of the problem, but a part of the solutions for New Orleans. Far from an anomaly, our impressions are that he exhibited an integrity based, sincere and transparent personality when engaging and working with Women on the Move. He was not in-charge nor the Superintendent at the start of or during Hurricane Katrina, yet appointed some four or five weeks thereafter. We feel he helped to move the City of New Orleans forward in spite of tremendous difficulties. He wasn’t implicated in any form of police misconduct whatsoever. He assisted and cooperated with the federal authorities in the prosecution and conviction of police officers charged in numerous acts of misconduct. He joined with us in insisting the Danziger Bridge violators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Riley indicated he believed their subsequent convictions were a victory for citizenry of New Orleans.
Now, we will not allow him to be demonized for the messy failings of inappropriate online comments by the former United States Attorney General in the Danziger Case.
We write to express our support for a good and decent man who we think will make a tremendous Director of the Office Public Safety and Homeland Security. We hereby humbly implore Our Honorable Mayor Cantrell to move past pause and appoint Warren Riley, Director of Homeland Security.
“Putting the People and Community First”
WOMEN on the MOVE