New Orleans Police Department

New Orleans Police Department
Abbreviation NOPD
New Orleans, LA Police.jpg
Patch of the New Orleans Police Department.
NOPD badge.png
Badge of the New Orleans Police Department.
Agency overview
Formed 1796
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of New Orleans in the state of Louisiana, United States
Map of Louisiana and USA highlighting Orleans Parish.png
Map of New Orleans Police Department's jurisdiction.
Size 350.2 square miles (907 km2)
Population 325,000 (est.)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 715 S. Broad Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
Officers 1,406
Agency executive Ronal W. Serpas, Ph.D., Superintendent of Police
Bureaus 4
Districts 8
NOPD site
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has primary responsibility for law enforcement in New Orleans, Louisiana. The department's jurisdiction covers all of Orleans Parish, while the city is divided into eight police districts.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2010, Ronal W. Serpas, Ph.D. was sworn in at Gallier Hall by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as the new superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. Serpas was most recently the chief of police in Nashville, Tennessee, and prior to that served as the director of the Washington State Patrol.


Personnel shortage

As of July 2007, the New Orleans Police Department had 1,406 officers on the force.[1] Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the NOPD had 1,742 commissioned police officers.[2] The NOPD is actively recruiting to increase manpower in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which preceded an unusually high number of resignations.

Bureaus and Command Staff

The NOPD is divided into four bureaus, each commanded by a deputy superintendent who reports to the superintendent of police:

  • Darryl J. Albert, Deputy Superintendent, Field Operations Bureau
  • Kirk M. Bouyelas, Deputy Superintendent, Investigative and Support Bureau
  • Arlinda P. Westbrook, Deputy Superintendent (Civilian), Public Integrity Bureau
  • Stephanie M. Landry, Deputy Superintendent (Civilian), Management Services Bureau

In the absence of the superintendent, the Deputy Superintendent of Field Operations will command the department.

On Tuesday, March 1, 2011, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission unanimously approved Superintendent Serpas' proposal to create a new pay plan for 16 new "Police Commanders". Serpas originally asked the Commission to approve 16 "Colonel's" positions. The new "Commanders" will be third in the command structure of the New Orleans Police Department, only ranked lower than the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendents. In June of 2011, 1 additional commander position was created for the Reserve Division. All other personnel, including the two Majors will be subordinate to these individuals. The Police Commanders are responsible for the 17 "Core Components" of the NOPD, including the 8 Patrol Districts and 9 other units as noted below.

Non-District Core Components and Command Staff

  • Recruiting and Training Academy - Commander Bernell Nevil
  • Records, Identification, and Facility Support - Commander Bernardine Kelly
  • Criminal Investigations Division - Commander Paul Noel
  • Specialized Investigations Division - Commander Micahel Harrison
  • Crime Lab and Central Evidence - Vacant Command
  • Special Operations Division - Commander John Thomas
  • Public Integrity Bureau - Vacant Command
  • Superintendent's Chief of Staff - Commander James Treadaway
  • Reserve Division - Commander Louis Dabdoub


The NOPD is divided into eight police districts, each of which is commanded by a Police Commander:

There are several units within each district, including Uniform Patrol, District Investigative Unit-Property Crimes, District Investigative Unit-Person Crimes, Task Force and Quality of Life Unit. Superintendent Serpas announced on June 23, 2010, that the majority of his highest-ranking commissioned officers - for example, majors and deputy chiefs - would be summarily demoted effective June 27 to captain, the latter rank thereby returning as the de facto rank of district station commander.[3] As a courtesy, many personnel continue to address district commanders with the honorific "Major." As of July 2010, only two officers - Treadaway and Burkart - retain the rank of major, both of whom were appointed to the position by civil service.

Also in accordance with the above changes, two of Serpas's deputy chiefs swapped responsibilities, while two others were replaced by civilian personnel, bringing the net count of deputy chiefs from six to four.[4]


Colonial Period

When New Orleans was founded in 1718, the policing of the city was in the hands of the military, alternating French, Spanish and again French governmental rule. The first mention of the formation of the New Orleans Police Department was in 1796, during the administration of the Spanish Colonial Governor, the Baron de Carondelet. It was stated, "Crime had reached such proportions by the mid-1790s that a full-time city police force was required."[5] On November 8, 1803, Mayor Etienne De Bore held the first Council Session and appointed a committee to inspect prisons and formulate rules and police regulations. Pierre Achille Rivery was appointed as Commissioner General of Police and placed in command of twenty-five men. After numerous complaints, these men were dismissed and the council authorized the hiring of mulattoes, but only under the command of white officers.

Pre-Civil War

New Orleans became a part of the United States on December 20, 1803 by virtue of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1804 a patrol militia was organized under James Pitot, the Mayor of New Orleans. The Guard de Ville (City Watch/City Guard) followed in 1806 but was abolished in 1808, and militia patrols were again established. By 1817, with the growth of the city, the number of constables was increased to 46. For the first time the city was divided into police districts - French Quarter, Faubourg's Treme, St. Mary and Marigny - and a Guard House was placed in each district.

In the 1820s and 1830s, denouncements were made of the police force. The crime situation had become so desperate that each district formed "vigilance committees" to help increase the efficiency of the police. Because of government mismanagement, in 1836 the city was divided into three municipalities with separate powers. The First was bordered by Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue. The Second began at Canal Street and went upriver to the parish line. The Third was down river from Esplanade Avenue. Under the charter, there were three separate police departments.

In 1852 a new mayor completely reorganized the police system and consolidated the three municipalities. John Youenes, the newly named Chief of Police, had a force of twelve officers and 345 policemen. The salary of the Chief at this time was $2,000 annually. In 1855, when the Council again reorganized the management power, there was the first mention of the "Crescent" badge. It was stated the city could not meet the expense of uniforms, but officers continued to wear the crescent badge[6]. When the Municipal Elections in 1856 were once again marred by fraud and violence, the Mayor ordered the police to walk their beats unarmed, and most resigned. Again a reorganization of the police force was called for in 1858, and the new Mayor proposed to upgrade the police department by raising their pay and removing them from politics. Although the reorganization was defeated, better policemen were selected and the discipline was stricter. Also, a telegraph system connecting police stations was introduced and a rogue's gallery was established.

Civil War & Reconstruction

African American New Orleans Police officer, 1871, sketched by Alfred Waud.

The outbreak of the Civil War interrupted progress that the police force had begun to make. New Orleans was captured in 1862, and General B. F. Butler suspended civil government and established martial law with military police and a provost marshal. Also that year the Mayor was replaced by Colonel George F. Shepley, who named Captain Jonas H. French the Chief of Police. Major Joseph M. Bell was named to head the military courts which tried all violations of city and federal laws. In 1865, Dr. Hu Kennedy was appointed Mayor of New Orleans and appointed M. Kavanagh as Chief of Police. Kavanagh was later replaced by Lieutenant John Burke, who had been the Chief of the Military Police. In May 1866 President Andrew Johnson put Mayor John T. Monroe back in office, and again the police department was reorganized. An ordinance was drafted specifying the number of police to be appointed, pay schedules, duties and uniform. The uniform was specified as a double-breasted blue cloth frock coat and matching pants, with variations for each rank. Also stated was, "The Chief and aids, when deemed necessary, shall wear on the left breast and outside of the coat, a metal badge in the shape of a crescent and star".

In July 1866 the White Citizens League and New Orleans Police led by the Mayor rioted against black citizens. Thirty-four black citizens and three white Republicans were killed, and 146 were wounded.

The Reconstruction Act of 1867 grouped Louisiana with Texas into the Fifth Military District under the U.S. Army. This Act suspended municipal elections in New Orleans, removed Monroe from office and fired the Police Chief. When military control came to an end in September 1868, the legislature under Governor Henry Clay Warmoth then created the Metropolitan Police Force by combining Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. This tri-parish law enforcement agency lasted until the end of Reconstruction in 1877.[7]

White Leaguers attacking the integrated police force, 1874

In September 1874 the White Citizens League again rioted against blacks, integrated institutions (such as the police force at that time), and Republicans in New Orleans, in the so-called Battle of Liberty Place. The Metropolitans were made up of black and white officers. It was reported that six rioters were killed and 17 injured,[8] while 7 Metropolitans were killed and 36 wounded.[9]. Another report of the riot gives different casualty figures[10].

At that time a few interested citizens volunteered to do police duty, and were known as the "Ribbon Force." Then under Act 35, the Crescent City Police were organized and Thomas N. Boylan was named Chief of Police. Boylan retired in 1882; veteran Police Captain Richard B. Rowley was his replacement. In 1884 a new Mayor appointed Theodore J. Boasso as Chief of Police.

Late 19th century

1889 editorial cartoon in the New Orleans "Mascot" satirizing the contrast between public perceptions of the police and "whitewashing" official investigations.

Scandal and corruption continued within the New Orleans Police Department. In the municipal elections of 1888, Joseph A. Shakspeare was again elected Mayor. This administration introduced a bill known as Act #63, which called for the election of six commissioners to reorganize and act as administrators of the Police Department. Finally, after much opposition, the Supreme Court ordered the bill to be put into effect. Police Chief David C. Hennessy, who had been previously appointed by Mayor Shakspeare, was unanimously chosen as Superintendent of Police on March 13, 1889. Superintendent Hennessy was a brave and zealous officer, and under his command the improvement was rapid and marked. Because of his devotion to duty and his fight against crime in the city, he brought upon himself the enmity of the lawless. Hennessy was assassinated on October 15, 1889, at about 11:30 P.M. as he neared his home on Basin Street after a meeting of the Police Board.

Captain John Journee was placed in temporary command of the Department by the Board of Commissioners. A monument 26 feet (7.9 m) high (8m) and 71/2 feet square (5.3 m2) was erected in tribute to the memory of the murdered chief, and unveiled on May 29, 1892. This monument now stands in Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery. From the many applicants, the Board of Commissioners unanimously elected Dexter S. Gaster to the position of Superintendent of Police on January 21, 1891. The police force numbered 325 at this time. The story is that Superintendent Gaster was needed during an inspection of the hundreds of officers, and when he was found, his badge was re-pinned upside down with the statement, "Now you will stand out." Gaster adopted the upside-down badge, and this became the tradition for each following superintendent.

Early 20th century

Police officers salute U.S. President William Howard Taft during his 1909 visit to New Orleans

Between July 24 and July 28, 1900, a violent suspect resisted arrest and killed four police officers and wounded one.[11] Four years later the department was reorganized in line with Act 32 of the Legislature. On July 27, 1904, the mayor was placed in authority of the force with the power to appoint two commissioners and an inspector of police. This Act abolished the title of superintendent. Superintendent Journee was elected as the new Inspector of Police and served until June 2, 1905, when E. S. Whitaker was elected. Inspector Whitaker held this position until January 2, 1908, when William J. O'Connor was elected, and he served until his death on November 29, 1910. He was succeeded by Senior Captain John P. Boyle, who acted as Inspector of Police until February 10, 1911. The board met that day and elected James W. Reynolds to the post. Reynolds had joined the police department in 1893 as a supernumerary clerk and, through perseverance, fair dealing and uncompromising honesty, had become the chief of detectives.

Mechanization of the NOPD began under Inspector Reynolds. The first units were one motor patrol wagon and four motorcycles. The other units consisted of seven horsedrawn patrol wagons, one runabout, two buggies and fifty-five horses. There were 399 paid members of the police department as of January 1, 1912, and by the end of 1915 there were 520 policemen, 126 of whom were listed as supernumeraries. One of Inspector Reynolds's many accomplishments was to organize a vice squad specially charged to stamp out street solicitations. Reynolds was at the height of his career when he was killed by a suspended officer on August 2, 1917. Senior Captain John P. Boyle took over the reins of the department until Frank T. Mooney was selected. Mooney further motorized the force and started a system of records. In December 1920 Guy Molony was appointed superintendent of police, fresh from the service as an army colonel and recognized as a professional soldier. At the time he took office there were only five precinct captains, with the other seven being commanded by a sergeant. He succeeded in having each station placed under the command of a captain. By 1922 the department was operating 33 automobiles and 21 motorcycles, and was beginning to concern itself with a newborn problem - vehicular traffic in the commercial district. That same year that the nucleus of the present Juvenile Bureau was formed with the employment of a policewoman and a protective officer. Also in 1922 the department was nationally recognized as the only one in the nation thoroughly equipped for first aid in all of its bureaus and precincts. As well, tear gas was introduced as a new weapon which had been successfully tested in the First World War. A retiring grand jury of 1925 described Colonel Molony's administration as one of the best in the history of the New Orleans Police Department. Thomas Healy replaced Colonel Molony as superintendent in 1925. His "100 miles per hour police service" was attained on August 18, 1926 with the acquisition of five armored motorcycles, capable of developing speeds of 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).

Captain Theodore Ray succeeded Superintendent Healy on January 1, 1929. Into his lap fell a series of bombings, dynamiting, fights, shootings and assaults, all associated with a serious streetcar strike. In addition to this situation, the force was pressed to continue its crusade against slot machines, vice and other forms of gambling. Colonel Hu B. Myers became the head of the Police Department when Superintendent Ray resigned on May 5, 1930. On April 1, 1931, Night Supervisor George Reyer was elevated to a new post created by the Police Board as Chief of Police. Police Headquarters was moved from Tulane Avenue and Saratoga Street to the new Criminal Courts Building located at Tulane Avenue and South Broad Street. New procedures were set up, including a program of physical training in a well-equipped gymnasium. A new police showup room began operation on October 7, 1931. George Reyer became acting Superintendent when Colonel Myers resigned on November 11, and the Chief's job was abolished.

Superintendent Reyer had an eye towards modernization, and plans were made for a radio station and an up-to-date communications center. Radio station WPEK began broadcasting information to cruising vehicles on May 14, 1932. Although there were no two-way sets, the system proved effective in that it eliminated minutes in having a unit proceed to the scene of a serious offense.


Early 1950s New Orleans Police car

During 1946 the Police Board was abolished, its functions transferred to the mayor, and an advisory board of three members was formed. Colonel Watters was able to raise the unreasonably low police salaries and also grant police one rest day each week in addition to 15 days of annual furlough. (The furlough was later raised to 21 days a year.) In the summer of 1947, the Police Emergency Unit was organized. This later became the New Orleans Emergency Medical Services.[12] Superintendent Scheuering relocated the Juvenile-Bicycle Division from Headquarters to 2552 St. Philip Street. Our Beat was the title given to the very first publication of the New Orleans Police Department. The first issue - Vol. 1, No.1 - was issued on October 20, 1949. The Police Bureau of Investigation was formed on August 4, 1954, and three special investigators were appointed for the purpose of handling all cases involving allegations against police personnel.

On August 15, 1960, Chief Giarrusso instituted a cadet program and opened ways for in-service officers to further their education and secure a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology at Loyola University. A National Crime Information Center (NCIC) was established to connect the City of New Orleans with 46 other state agencies throughout the United States. In 1964 the Department received a new look; both new and old police cars were painted a soft blue and white, and an ordinance provided distinctive flashing blue lights. This made it easy for the public to recognize police vehicles as opposed to other types of emergency services. Giarrusso recognized the need for better communication between the police and the public, and the Community Relations Division was formed on September 15, 1966. In June 1968, when the Police Administration Building was completed, headquarters moved there from the Criminal Courts Building where they had been housed jointly with Criminal Courts since 1931.

Late 20th century

When Moon Landrieu became mayor in 1970, he appointed 21-year veteran Clarence B. Giarrusso as Superintendent of Police to succeed his brother, who had retired, on August 25, 1970. He chose retired Captain Louis J. Sirgo as Deputy Superintendent and Captain Sidney H. Cates as Deputy Chief for Administration. In February 1971 the Urban Squad was implemented to concentrate in densely populated low-income housing areas which had a marked impact on criminal activity. The Felony Action Squad was formed in September 1972 for the specific purpose of armed robbery prevention in areas of actual and/or predicted high criminal activity. Also at this time, the Alcohol Safety Action Division was formed in an effort to reduce alcohol-related auto accidents.

One of the greatest tragedies ever to befall the NOPD began on December 31, 1972, when the first of a series of snipings and gun battles began between a lone gunman identified as Mark Essex and members of the department. Essex was finally traced on Sunday, January 7, 1973 to the downtown Howard Johnson, where senseless murders were committed. At 8:50 P.M. when a military helicopter occupied by police riflemen was on its third flight over the roof, Essex ran from a concrete cubicle firing at the helicopter and was shot. However, extreme caution was still exercised due to reports from several observation points that a second subject had also been seen. Finally, police officers entered the roof area from all sides about 2:00 P.M. on Monday, January 8, but no other person was found. A systematic search of the entire area of the motel also proved negative. The personnel losses to the NOPD were the deaths of Deputy Superintendent Louis J. Sirgo, Patrolmen Paul Persigo and Philip Coleman, K-9 Officer Edwin Hosli and Cadet Alfred Harrell. Numerous other officers and civilians were wounded in the incidents.

Major Anthony D. Duke, a 27-year veteran, accepted the position of deputy superintendent after the death of Chief Sirgo. Chief Duke supervised the affairs of the Department from March through September 1976, while Chief Giarrusso recuperated from an illness. In December Chief Giarrusso was one of 21 chiefs from major cities to complete the FBI’s first National Executive Institute in Quantico, Virginia.

Construction was begun in 1977 on a much-needed addition to the Headquarters Building for the expansion of several divisions and the integration of a computerized communications system. When the building was first constructed in 1968, provisions had been made to enlarge it without major structural alterations.

Mounted police during New Orleans Mardi Gras 1984

Ernest N. Morial took over the reins of the city from Moon Landrieu on May 1, 1978. Morial appointed a citizens' committee to interview applicants for the position of superintendent of police and asked Giarrusso to remain until a new chief was selected. Giarrusso was praised as an innovative chief whose entire administration was geared towards the implementation of programs in crime prevention and law enforcement, many of which were adopted by other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.

James C. Parson, a native and former police chief of Birmingham, Alabama selected from over 110 applicants, was sworn in as superintendent on June 12. He soon announced a new look by changing the color of police vehicles to a darker shade of blue under a white top, accented by red and blue flashing lights, luminous decals and high-intensity alley lights. New protections screens were added to improve visibility and to provide maximum safety for officers and prisoners. Parson's command was soon beset with problems, starting in 1979 with dissension over the city’s offered pay plan for diminishing many benefits, including slashing both annual and sick leave. After a walkout and with Mardi Gras being canceled in Orleans Parish during a sixteen-day strike, benefits were then restored with the new stipulation only for new hires.

Tragedy again befell the department on November 8, 1980, when Fourth District Officer Gregory Neupert was found mortally wounded in Algiers. After a deadly confrontation between the alleged slayers and police, Superintendent Parson resigned on November 24 amid a groundswell of protests by various groups, and Deputy Superintendent Henry M. Morris was placed in charge on an interim basis. In assuming leadership, Morris felt that the manpower shortage was his number one priority. Although he felt narcotics was the cause of the majority of crimes, he had to reassign officers from specialized units to the districts in order to keep up with the calls for service. Mayor Morial announced in January 1981 a new hot line program entitled Taxis on Patrol. Drivers of the city’s 1200 radio-dispatched taxicabs would alert police to crimes and suspicious situations. The program of appointing civilian personnel to specialized jobs was expanded, thus allowing additional police officers to be assigned to line functions. A program entitled "Teleserv" was initiated in which citizen volunteers assisted in handling minor complaints over the telephone, also freeing more field officers.

On April 16, 1981 Mayor Morial announced the appointment of Morris as Superintendent of Police and Warren Woodfork Sr. as his replacement. Continuing to address negative press and public criticism, Morris made extensive revisions in the police academy curriculum providing training in human relations and cultural sensitivity. Having increased the number of officers assigned to patrol, he then nearly doubled the Narcotics Squad and promoted thirty officers as field training officers. These promotions were the beginning of the Police Officer I - IV program designed to recognize and compensate officers based on their training experience. The Central Lockup and the House of Detention were transferred to the Criminal Sheriff in December 1982, thus saving the city $1 million. Also in December, the "Old" Eighth District was merged into the Third Police District and both the Urban and Felony Action Squads were disbanded. In August 1983, the only NOPD substation was opened on Peltier Street in eastern New Orleans to assist residents from southeast Asia. As 1984 began, significant improvements were noted in training, narcotics enforcement and crime prevention.

Warren G. Woodfork was appointed Superintendent on January 20, 1985 by Mayor Morial when Morris retired. (Woodfork was the first police chief to break the tradition of wearing the upside-down badge.) Woodfork chose Yvonne Bechet as a deputy chief, making her the first female ever to receive such a promotion. He later assigned Lieutenant Carol Hewlett to command the Seventh Police District; she was the first female to command a district. On April 9, 1986, Mayor-Elect Sidney Barthelemy announced that he would reappoint Woodfork.

In February 1987, Woodfork reassigned Hewlett to command the Narcotics Drug Abuse Unit. Again she became the first female to command this unit. Throughout his administration Woodfork sought creative programs and concepts to target the juvenile crime problem and the growing level of violence. It was felt that education, music and sports were the three most important ingredients needed to lead young people away from crime. Through the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, police officers began teaching life skills in schools. A Police Youth Band was organized targeting youths aged 12 to 18, and the Police Athletic League (PALS) was created so kids could learn teamwork and other social activities.

Mayor Barthelemy announced on April 1, 1991 that Arnesta W. Taylor, Jr., a 26-year veteran, would be the new Superintendent, replacing Woodfork who had announced his retirement. He was officially sworn in on April 15. Taylor had served as assistant superintendent of technical services since May 1986 and Field Operations since November 1989. Joseph M. Orticke was named to replace him in field operations. (Taylor followed in Woodfork’s footsteps and also wore a regular badge.) On his first day in office, Chief Taylor increased police visibility by putting into operation a Special Task Force, in which over 60 officers and supervisors were deployed on a 24-hour basis throughout the city based on crime trends and patterns. A total of 804 arrests were made during the first eight weeks of operation, with 49% being felony arrests. This police visibility also endorsed his commitment to adopt a comprehensive version of community policing. Taylor continued the youth programs and was instrumental in creating an NOPD Boy Scout Troop.

On January 2, 1992, Chief Taylor created a new bureau entitled Management Services, with a third assistant superintendent to share the responsibilities of the Department. Taylor served until he retired effective August 1, 1993, at which time Mayor Barthelemy announced he would be replaced by Joseph M. Orticke Jr.

Orticke was officially sworn in as the new superintendent by Supreme Court Associate Justice Revius Ortique, Jr. in the City Hall Council Chamber on August 2, 1993. (Orticke, citing Henry Morris as his mentor, reverted back to tradition and wore his badge upside down.) Orticke had been promoted through the civil service ranks to the grade of major on October 31, 1990, being the first black major in the history of the department. He was the only officer besides Henry Morris to attain the rank of major before being promoted to assistant superintendent. He also served in both technical services and field operations. Orticke’s first act was to promote Major Duane D. Johnson, a 19-year veteran, to assistant superintendent in command of technical services and Captain Mitchell S. J. Dusset, a 24-year veteran, to assistant superintendent in command of field operations. The department was restructured with some of the recommendations of the study performed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, particularly with the concept aimed toward community policing.

Mayor-elect Marc H. Morial announced that Joseph Orticke would remain as interim superintendent until he decided on a permanent chief. Morial was sworn in as mayor on May 1, 1994. The New Orleans curfew law, one of the strictest in the nation, was implemented on June 1 with these hours: 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM Friday and Saturday from June 1 to August 31; 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM Friday and Saturday beginning September 1 to May 31. The curfew did precisely what it was meant to do - reduce the number of juveniles on the street after hours.

During a press conference held in Gallier Hall on October 13, 1994, Mayor Morial announced that his search for a new superintendent had resulted in the selection of Richard Pennington, an assistant chief with 26 years of experience with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. Mayor Morial also announced that Orticke as Major would be the Chief of Security for the New Orleans International Airport.

Chief Pennington retained assistant superintendents Mitchell S. J. Dusset in command of field operations and Duane D. Johnson as commander of technical services. The two new assistant superintendents selected were Captain Carol Hewlett to command the Management Services Bureau and Captain Ronald Doucette to command the Investigative Services Bureau.

After obtaining an in-depth overview of the New Orleans Police Department, Chief Pennington faced problems ranging from manpower shortage and inadequate salaries to double-digit rises in crime and the department's national reputation for widespread corruption. In January 1995 he issued the Pennington Plan, containing ten major elements regarding reform.

On February 1 Chief Pennington initiated his policing strategy, focusing on high-crime areas. First came the creation of a new 100-member citywide policing team known as the Community Oriented Police Squad (COPS). New Orleans differs from other American cities in that it has ten public housing developments. By virtue of a $3.4 million federal grant, three Community Empowerment Centers were opened in the Desire, Florida and B. W. Cooper housing developments, the three highest crime areas. Four additional COPS substations were then established in the Iberville, Lafitte, C. J. Peete and St. Bernard developments.

The Internal Affairs Division was abolished and the Public Integrity Division was created and put under the command of Major Felix Loicano. This division was relocated to 118 N. Rocheblave Street, an independent site away from police headquarters, giving citizens a sense of comfort when filing a complaint. An early warning system was instituted to monitor complaints made against individual officers.

In his first State of Police Address on October 14, 1996, Chief Pennington stated the murder rate in the public housing development areas decreased by nearly 75%. Community policing initiatives carried over to affect the citywide murder rate, which led to an 18% reduction in murders across New Orleans. Pennington then announced that, as part of the restructuring, the Patrol Services Bureau was renamed the Operations Bureau. Major Ronal W. Serpas, a 16-year veteran, was appointed to assistant superintendent to command this bureau. Chief Johnson remained in command of technical services, while assistant Superintendent Dusset was assigned to the newly created Office of Policy and Planning and charged with developing the city’s first comprehensive emergency management plan.

In 1998 Mayor Morial and Chief Pennington announced that New Orleans led the nation in the violent crime reduction among the 30 largest U.S. cities.

Courtney Bagneris, with nine years of experience in the city’s Finance Department, was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer for the NOPD on July 6, 1998. She was charged with the responsibility of preparing the yearly departmental budget for city council review and approval.

Early 21st century

In August 2001, when Major Serpas retired to accept the position of Washington State Police Chief, Assistant Superintendent Duane D. Johnson was promoted from command of the Technical and Support Bureau to assume second in command of the New Orleans Police Department as Chief of Operations. As commander of the Technical and Support Bureau since 1993, he was responsible for the development of the department’s technology initiatives and support services. Significant achievements established the NOPD as a recognized leader in the areas of 911 communications, mobile data, crime analysis/COMSTAT, geographic information system mapping, automated ballistics/fingerprint identification, barcode evidence tracking and other computer system infrastructures. He had also established innovative programs in false burglar alarm tracking and risk management auto-accident reduction. As operations chief, Serpas's overall responsibilities included day-to-day control of the eight police districts, Special Operations Tactical, Traffic and Reserve divisions, the Investigative Support Division, the Scientific Criminal Investigations, Gaming/Vice/Narcotics interdiction efforts, community policing initiatives and field command of all major events such as Mardi Gras, the Bayou Classic, the Sugar Bowl and Super Bowl. He also was the coordinator of local state, and federal investigations. He also leads the COMSTAT weekly meetings to track crime trends and plot strategies.

At this time Lieutenant Marlon Defillo, commander of Public Affairs, was promoted to Assistant Superintendent to command the Office of Policy and Planning. Added to the supervision of the Research & Planning Division and CALEA were the Recruitment and Applicant Section and Public Affairs. Lieutenant Sidney Bournes was named to command Public Affairs. Chief Dusset assumed command of the Technical and Support Bureau, consisting of the Education and Training Division, Administrative Duties Division, Communications, Information Systems and Services Division, Electronics, Central Evidence & Property, Records and Identification Division, National Crime Information Center, Special Officer Section, Risk Management and Facility Support Sections.

On November 17, 2001, the Department received the official Certificate of Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In 1998 the Department’s Research and Planning Division had been assigned the daunting task of applying for national accreditation. This involved a self-assessment phase, beginning with a comprehensive review of the 443 standards contained in the CALEA Standards Manual, and then revising the operations manual and other needed changes.

When Chief Pennington announced his candidacy as Mayor of the City of New Orleans shortly after Mayor Marc Morial failed in his bid to seek a third term, he entered the race with near-universal name recognition. After granting Chief Pennington a leave of absence from the NOPD, Mayor Morial promoted Chief Johnson from the command of the Operations Bureau to Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department on Monday, November 26, 2001. At that time he also promoted Captain Eddie Compass from his position as commander of the First Police District to Assistant Superintendent, second-in-command Chief of Operations. He chose Captain Newell Smith to command the First District. In the February 2 election with a field of fifteen candidates, Chief Pennington and Ray Nagin were selected as mayoral runoff candidates. However, in the March 2 election, in a very close race, the citizens of New Orleans chose Nagin as the next Mayor.

On Sunday, May 3, 2002, Chief Pennington returned to work as Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department to fulfill his contract until May 6. Chief Johnson returned to the position of Chief of Operations, Chief Compass returned to Captain, Commander of the First Police District and Captain Smith returned to the position of HANO liaison. On May 6 Mayor Nagin requested Chief Pennington to continue as Superintendent while his transition team made their recommendations.

On Tuesday, May 21, Mayor Nagin held a press conference to announce that he had chosen 43-year-old Captain Eddie Compass III, a self-described "street cop", to lead the New Orleans Police Department. Compass, a district commander with 23 years of experience, had proven his commitment to the City of New Orleans. Mayor Nagin stated what impressed him most was Compass’s "track record of success" in implementing community policing programs that helped bring down the city’s homicide rate, particularly in public housing developments. He also said he was swayed by Compass’s affinity for technology, a priority for his administration, and that he was able "to envision us working together as a high-performance team reaching our goals in this community."

Warren Riley, 2007

The next day, Chief Compass announced his selection of assistant superintendents: Duane D. Johnson was to continue as second-in-command Chief of Operations and Courtney Bagneris as the head of the Office of Fiscal and Personnel Management. Compass appointed Warren Riley, former Fifth District Commander, to head Policy and Planning. Captain Gerald Ursin, former Assistant Commander of Public Integrity, was appointed commander of Technical Services. Chief Compass appointed Lonnie Swain, former Seventh District Commander, as a fifth assistant superintendent in command of the Public Integrity Division. Chief Dusset chose to retire, and Lieutenant Defillo resumed command of Public Affairs while Lieutenant Bournes returned to Special Operations.

The Superintendent was officially sworn in at 10:00 A.M. on Friday, May 24 before a standing-room-only audience in the City Hall Council Chamber. Compass delivered an informal address that stressed the importance of partnership between citizens and the city’s 1640 police officers. He said, "Putting people in jail is important, but that’s just recycling statistics. We have to change people’s mindsets and form a community of people working together in a partnership." Then, after reading a poem titled "Bridge Builder," Compass promised to build a department of bridge-builders to bridge the city and unite it like never before. Compass’s first official act as Superintendent was to proceed to Southern University at 1:00 P.M. to swear in the fifty graduating members of Recruit Class 145.

On July 8, 2002, Chief Compass, in continuing his assault on rising crime rates, announced several initiatives. One was a Witness Support Program which asked clergy members to urge their congregations to participate in a volunteer program that assigned people to support witnesses to crime. He stated, "Criminals intimidate our witnesses. We have to take that power away from them." The presence of witness supporters sends a clear message the community, the clergy and the congregations are behind the witnesses.

On July 26, Chief Compass learned that second in command, Assistant Superintendent Duane Johnson was retiring to become Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness with DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company, which manages the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Chief Compass stated, "Johnson dedicated 28 years of public service to the citizens of New Orleans and helped to make the New Orleans Police Department one of the nation’s premier law enforcement agencies."

Replacing Johnson as Chief of Operations was Deputy Chief Gerald Ursin Jr., who just two month earlier had been appointed Chief of Technical Services. Fourth District Commander Steven B. Nicholas became Deputy Chief of Technical Services and Captain Ronald Doucette, commander of Records and Identification, was assigned command of the Fourth District. Seventh District Commander Captain David Kirsch replaced Doucette in Records and Identification and Captain Timothy Bayard, formerly of Policy and Planning, became the Seventh District commander.

Assistant Superintendent Gerald Ursin retired on February 3, 2003. Compass promoted Captain Daniel Lawless to the position of Assistant Superintendent and assigned him the command of the Policy, Planning and Training Bureau. Assistant Superintendent Warren J. Riley remained second-in-command, Chief of Operations; Assistant Chief Courtney Bagneris continued heading the Office of Fiscal and Personnel Management. Assistant Superintendent Steven B. Nicholas remained in charge of the Technical Services Bureau, and Assistant Superintendent Lonnie H. Swain commanded the Public Integrity Bureau.

Chief Compass promoted over fifty officers since taking the department helm and made numerous reassignments. Captain James Scott was assigned to the Third District to replace Chief Lawless; Captain Thomas Smegal was assigned the Fourth District to replace the retired Captain Doucette, and Captain Lawrence Weathersby was assigned command of the Fifth District. Also, Captain Ellington retired and Captain Anthony Cannatella was assigned command of the Sixth District. Captain Orazio remained in the First District; Captain Hosli in the Second; Captain Bayard in the Seventh, and Captain Dabdoub in the Eighth.

During a ceremony at Police Headquarters on October 27, 2003, Compass promoted Lieutenant Jeff Winn, a highly decorated 18-year veteran, to Captain and assigned him to command the First Police District. Winn, who served seven months as a gunnery sergeant with the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing Headquarters, Military Police Detachment in Kuwait and then Iraq, had just returned during the first part of October and had been assigned to the First District. Superintendent Compass also commended Captain Tami Brisset who had been serving as interim commander. She was reassigned to command Inspections.

Mayor Nagin and Chief Compass led their second review of NOPD members in Jackson Square on May 2, 2004, and the following memorial Mass in the St. Louis Cathedral was in memory of Captain Anthony Genovese, Sergeant Robert Harrison, Sergeant William Matthews and Officer Terry Demesme, who died of natural causes.

During a promotional ceremony held on July 6, Chief Compass made NOPD history when Bernadine Weaver Kelly became the first African-American female to be promoted to the rank of Captain. She was assigned to command the Community Oriented Policing Squad (COPS). During his tenure to date, Chief Compass made over 100 promotions strictly on qualifications, with nearly half being African-Americans and females.

On July 20, 2004, when Chief of Operations Warren J. Riley took a leave of absence from the NOPD to announce his candidacy for Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, Chief Compass announced his replacement would be Assistant Superintendent Daniel E. Lawless. Chief Compass then promoted Captain Marlon A. Defillo to the position of Assistant Superintendent and assigned him the command of the Policy and Planning Bureau to replace Chief Lawless.

As Chief of Operations, Lawless’s overall responsibilities include day-to-day control of the eight police districts, Special Operations Tactical, Traffic and Reserve Divisions, the Investigative Support Division, the Scientific Criminal Investigation Division and Gaming/Vice/Narcotics interdiction efforts, as well as community policing initiatives and field command of all major events.

As Chief of the Policy and Planning Bureau, Defillo was responsible for directing and reviewing departmental studies and surveys and consists of Research and Planning, the Training Academy, the Recruitment and Application Section and Homeland Security. Chief Defillo also retained command of the Public Affairs Division.

After narrowly losing the hard-fought November 2, 2004 election for Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Assistant Superintendent Warren J. Riley returned from his leave of absence to the NOPD on November 14 as Chief of Operations. Assistant Superintendent Daniel Lawless returned as Chief of the Policy and Planning Bureau. Deputy Superintendent Marlon A. Defillo returned to the civil service rank of captain and command of the Public Affairs Division.

Ronal Serpas, 2010

In 2001, Superintendent Serpas retired from the New Orleans Police Department after 21 years of service. Before retiring, Superintendent Serpas attained the civil service rank of major and the appointed position of assistant superintendent of the NOPD. Chief Serpas was preceded by Warren J. Riley, who retired with the change of the mayoral administration on May 2, 2010. Riley had been preceded by Eddie Compass and Richard Pennington.

During a press conference on Friday, June 25, 2010, Superintendent Serpas announced several reforms to the New Orleans Police Department. Superintendent Serpas reduced the number of deputy superintendents from six to four, and decided that only two of those positions would be held by commissioned officers. Serpas announced that Marlon Defillo, current Assistant Superintendent of the Bureau of Investigations, would take on a new role as the Deputy Chief of the Operations Bureau. Current Deputy Chief Kirk Bouyelas would also take on a new role as Deputy Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau. The two civilian deputy chiefs were to be Ms. Arlinda Westbrook, Deputy Chief (Civilian) in charge of the Public Integrity Bureau, and Ms. Stephanie Landry, Deputy Chief (Civilian) in charge of the Management Services Bureau. Serpas also reduced the rank of eleven appointed Majors to their proper civil service rank of Captain. Also in the slew of changes, Serpas reassigned 25 of the current 37 Captains within the department.

Danziger Bridge shootings

A deadly police shooting occurred on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On Sunday, September 4, six days after the hurricane, nineteen-year-old James Brissette and forty-year-old Ronald Madison, both African American, were killed in the gunfire, and four other civilians were wounded. All victims were unarmed. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. New Orleans police coordinated in fabricating a cover-up story for their crime, falsely reporting that seven police officers responded to a police dispatch reporting an officer down, and that at least four people were firing weapons at the officers upon their arrival. The Danziger Bridge Shootings led to several NOPD officers being charged with various crimes including obstruction of justice. On august 5, 2011, five officers were found guilty of all charges. Several others plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testimony against the other officers.

Rank structure

Title Command Insignia Shirt Address Salary* (2010) Number (2010)
Superintendent of Police Police Department
4 Gold Stars.svg
White "Superintendent"
or "Chief"
$180,000 1
Deputy Superintendent Bureau
2 Gold Stars.svg
White "Chief"
or "Deputy Chief"
$94,006 -
District Commander
District Station
Commander insignia Gold.png
White "Captain" or
$74,709 8
Captain Division,
Unit, Section
Captain insignia gold.svg
White "Captain" $69,366 29
Lieutenant Platoon,
District Unit,
Blue "Lieutenant" $60,513 71
Sergeant Platoon,
Task Force
US Army E-5.svg
Blue "Sergeant" $46,885 15%
Detective Investigations,
as Officers
Plainclothes "Detective" 5.8%
Officer IV Patrol,
Chevron double silver.jpg
Blue "Officer" $42,449 72%
Officer III (see above)
Chevron single+1rocker silver.jpg
Blue "Officer" $40,391 (see above)
Officer II (see above)
Chevron single silver.jpg
Blue "Officer" $38,433 (see above)
Officer I (see above)
Blue "Officer" $36,570 (see above)
Reserve (same as regular Officers)
Blue "Officer" unpaid volunteer N/A
Recruit (Field) N/A
N/A "Recruit" $34,797 N/A
Recruit (Academy) N/A
N/A "Recruit" $34,797 N/A

NOTES: *The State of Louisiana provides $6,000 supplemental annual pay after one year of service.[13] Additional annual pay is merited for the following degrees[14]: Associates: $1,000 Bachelors: $2,000 Graduate: $3,000 (Masters, Doctorate)


Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of NOPD [15]:

  • Male: 85%
  • Female: 15%
  • African-American/Black: 51%
  • White: 46%
  • Hispanic: 2%
  • Asian: 1%

Hurricane Katrina

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, looting, violence and other criminal activity became serious problems. With most of the attention of the authorities focused on rescue efforts, security in New Orleans degraded quickly. By August 30, looting had spread throughout the city, often in broad daylight and in the presence of police officers. "The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked," City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said.[16]

Incapacitated by the breakdown of transportation and communication, as well as overwhelmed in terms of numbers, police officers could do little to stop crime. Shopkeepers who remained behind were left to defend their property alone. Looters included gangs of armed gunmen, and gunfire was heard in various parts of the city. Along with violent armed robbery of nonessential valuable goods, many incidents were of residents simply gathering food, water and other essential commodities from unstaffed grocery stores. There were also reports of looting by some police officers.

One report of violence involved a police shooting of six citizens on the Danziger Bridge, which carries the Chef Menteur Highway (US 90) across the Industrial Canal. These citizens were reportedly attacking contractors of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved in the 17th Street Canal repair. Other reports alleged people seeking refuge on the bridge from the flood were fired on without provocation[17]. The shootings left two dead and four injured. Subsequently, seven NOPD officers were indicted on murder charges in connection with the incident known as the "Danzinger 7". The case was dropped when the prosecutor who brought the charges, Eddie Jordan, resigned his position following charges of corruption and a judgment against him in a racial discrimination lawsuit. On August 13, 2008, District Judge Raymond Bigelow dismissed the case based on misconduct by the prosecution[18].

Over 200 NOPD officers were said to have deserted the city during the storm.[19] These officers were given the opportunity to explain their actions before the deputy chief in a tribunal-like hearing, after which 85% of the officers who supposedly deserted were terminated. The ones who stayed during Katrina were awarded with a Hurricane Katrina lapel pin to be worn on the uniform. It is shaped like the star and crescent badge, with a hurricane emblem in the center of the star.

Prior to Katrina, the New Orleans Police Department was notable as being one of the few major departments in the country whose officers sported powder blue uniform shirts instead of the dark or navy blue shirts used by the majority of police forces nationwide. In the wake of Katrina, however, the department switched to a dark blue uniform shirt in order to avoid potential problems from people, including officers dismissed after the hurricane who may have attempted to illegally pass themselves off as police officers. Beginning on Friday, February 13, 2009, during the annual Mardi Gras celebration, NOPD officers officially and permanently returned to wearing powder blue uniform shirts to the delight of many New Orleans residents who observed the groups of traditionally-clad officers along the parade routes.

In the fall of 2007, the Fox television network dramatized post-Katrina New Orleans in the short-lived police drama K-Ville starring Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser as NOPD detectives working for the Felony Action Squad (FAS).

New Orleans Police Badge

The Star and Crescent badge, unique to the NOPD, has been worn by members of the department since 1855. The crescent represents the shape of the city, as the Mississippi River forms a crescent shape around the city.The star represents the power of a state or local government to preserve order and keep the peace; it is a traditional symbol of law enforcement authority in the United States. Patrolmen (Police Officer I, II, III, IV) wear silver badges; Detectives and ranking officers wear gold badges. Officers and Detectives are issued four- and high three digit badge numbers, (approx. #470 to 2999). These numbers remain with them throughout their careers unless they are promoted to ranking officer. All Department badge numbers are randomly assigned, and may be reissued when the officer retires or quits the department. But if an officer is killed or dies in the line of duty, then that number is permanently retired and not reissued. When an Officer becomes a Detective, his badge retains the same number he had as an Officer, except it will now be a Detective's gold badge. Since Detective is not a class of rank within the NOPD, but a job position or title given to Officers in investigative or special assignments, when the Officer is transferred out of that position he reverts back to wearing his silver Officer badge. When an Officer is promoted to Sergeant, he is reissued a new gold Sergeant's badge with a three-digit number,(approx. #200 to 470), a Lieutenant also gets a new gold Lieutenant's badge and three-digit number (approx. #100 to 200). Captains, Majors and Chiefs all have two-digit gold badges with the appropriate rank, (#99 and below). A District Commander will wear the number of his assigned police district on his badge (#1 to 8). The Superintendent and deputy chiefs do not display badge numbers on their badges, only their rank position.

Historically, the Superintendent of Police wore his badge upside-down (inverted) compared to the badges worn by the rest of the police force. This was originally begun during the late 19th century to make the Superintendent stand out among the rest of the police force. It is also symbolic in that the Superintendent alone carries the weight and power of the Police Department and has the responsibility to lead. The chief's badge has a star on top with the crescent shape underneath, while all the other officers wear a badge with the crescent on top and the star on bottom. All superintendents of police for the NOPD wore the inverted badge inverted until Chief Warren Woodfork changed the tradition in 1985. Woodfork's replacement, Chief Arnesta Taylor, reinstituted the tradition in 1992. Taylor's replacement, Chief Joseph Orticke, continued the tradition until he was replaced by Richard Pennington. Pennington wore the badge "right side up", same as other members of the department. In 2002, Chief Eddie Compass returned to tradition and wore the badge as it had historically been worn. Chief Warren Riley continued the tradition of wearing the chief's badge upside-down in November 2005. When Superintendent Serpas took over in 2010, he also continued to wear the chief's badge inverted.

Reserve police officers are part-time unpaid volunteers with full police power and authority, the same as full-time paid officers. All Reserve officers are issued five-digit badges, with a three-digit number preceded by "10" to signify a Reserve Officer (example: # 10123). Reserve officers wear silver badges, with Reserve ranking officers wearing gold. The uniform of a Reserve Officer is the same as a full time officer. The "10" on the officer's badge number is the only thing distinguishing a reserve officer's uniform from that of a regular full-time officer.

Certain civilian employees and unpaid support volunteers of the New Orleans Police Department who may have to identify themselves in public or at crime scenes as Police Department representatives are issued silver badges with their job title or position displayed on them (e.g. Equipment Operator, Crime Scene Tech, Chaplain, Brake Inspector, Electronics Tech, Crisis Transportation Unit). These badges do not have badge ID numbers on them, but instead usually have radio unit call numbers for identification and the name of the unit assigned, and may be transferred between persons as needed. They are shaped like the star and crescent badge of commissioned officers, but have the holder's job title and radio unit call number/unit ID number engraved on the center of the star, where an officer's displays rank and badge number. The crescent part of the badge reads New Orleans Police, the same as on an officer's badge.

New Orleans officers killed

With the exception of the "Metropolitans" killed in 1874, the ODMP website lists 109 New Orleans Policemen killed/died from 1856 to 2011.[20]

See also

Portal icon New Orleans portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


External links

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