Now is Not the time to Slow Down
The past week was full of surprises, including the fact that current NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison will be leaving New Orleans to become commissioner of Baltimore’s police department, a job that he once said he was not interested in taking.
Seriously, whatever Supt. Harrison’s reasons for changing his mind, we respect his right to do so, and we thank him for his service and wish him nothing but the best as he moves on.
More importantly, we anxiously await Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s appointment of a new police chief. If local mainstream media reports are correct, it is imminent. We are however, taken aback from by concerns that she is moving fast or that she appears in a “rush” to name Harrison’s successor.
Ha! That’s quite comical considering that some of the very same media outlets were previously critical of the Mayor for not quickly naming members of her a transition team. Then they went in again on her for not announcing the top members of her administration fast enough for them.
Now all of a sudden, they want to know why the “rush” to name a new police superintendent. We suspect that their concern stems more from the fact that if she makes a quick decision, there will be little time for outside forces to sway it.
Classic case of damned if you do, damned if don’t, if you ask us.
But the bottom line is that the New Orleans Police Department, and more specifically crime in New Orleans, appears to have improved under Chief Harrison. According to stats, violent crime in 2018 dropped to rates not seen since the 1970s in some areas. Progress has been made, to be sure. And that means now is not the time to get relaxed or to wait too long to appoint a new superintendent to continue leading the department and the city in the right direction when it comes to policing. We’ve progressed, but we’re not out of the woods yet. The department is still under a federal consent decree. And while New Orleans in no longer the nation’s murder capital, it is still among the top 10 of America’s deadliest cities.
So if it seems like Mayor Cantrell is “rushing”, it’s only because the city of New Orleans does not have time waste.
We have heard the names that are supposedly on the mayor’s short list of candidates. And we are especially pleased to know that she is looking within the department—considering veteran NOPD leaders that have risen up the ranks and who have served with the men and women they would be charged to lead. We need seamless leadership from a superintendent that understands the needs of all New Orleanians. We need a police superintendent that is connected to the community and understands the challenges residents face.
We’ll be honest. We have heard particularly good things about Shaun Ferguson. A former commander of both the 4th and 2nd districts, Ferguson is now commander of the NOPD’s Education and Training Division. With ensuring that NOPD recruits the best officers to serve our community and trains them well for that task paramount concerns for any police chief, Ferguson’s background in this area, coupled with his experiences as a district commander, would serve him and New Orleans well.
Of course, this is just what we think. And we are certain that there are plenty of self-appointed influencers trying to sway the mayor’s decision on this matter. But at the end of the day, we know it is Mayor Cantrell’s decision to make. It’s her administration. And with that, we want to encourage Mayor Cantrell to also remember and to not yield to any outside pressure as she makes this most important decision for the people of New Orleans.