New Orleans mayor names interim police chief

December 20, 2022 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The mayor of New Orleans has chosen an interim police superintendent and says a national search will help decide who gets the permanent post.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Tuesday named New Orleans police Capt. Michelle Woodfork to the interim position.

Woodfork is a 31-year New Orleans Police Department veteran and the niece of former chief Warren Woodfork, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

“She grew up understanding the importance of law and order. My kind of woman,” Cantrell said. “Leadership matters, and I look forward to the leadership that will be brought forth by Captain Michelle Woodfork.”

A consultant will also work with the city to conduct a nationwide search, Cantrell said.

The mayor had said little publicly about how she would go about replacing Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson, who said earlier this month that he would retire effective Thursday.

There are many challenges confronting the next leader of the New Orleans Police Department. Along with a high murder rate and dwindling ranks, the department is dealing with widespread morale problems, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

A survey by the Fraternal Order of Police and City Council found that 86% of officers were dissatisfied with the department.

Several city council members expressed support for the mayor’s decision to name Woodfork as the interim chief.

“The New Orleans Police Department and the people of this city deserve the most qualified leader to permanently replace Chief Shaun Ferguson,” City Council President Helena Moreno said in a statement. “Appointing an interim Chief and launching a national search will provide the opportunity to find that person. I appreciate the Mayor listening to the City Council along with numerous community and business groups who called for this process.”