New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Monday that she has nominated Anne Kirkpatrick, a former chief of police in Oakland and Spokane, Washington, to be the new chief of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). Kirkpatrick’s nomination is subject to the approval of the City Council, which has the power to confirm or reject the mayor’s choice under a measure approved by voters last year.
Kirkpatrick has over 35 years of experience in law enforcement and has led police departments in several cities, including Spokane, Chicago, and Oakland. She is known as a reformer who has implemented changes to improve accountability, transparency, and community relations in the police departments she has headed.
“Kirkpatrick has proven that she is more than capable and has what it takes to now lead the world-class NOPD,” Cantrell said in a press release. “She has shown that she can work with federal monitors, implement consent decrees, increase recruitment and retention, reduce crime and use of force, enhance community policing and public trust, and foster a culture of excellence and professionalism within a police department.”
Cantrell nominates ex-Oakland chief Anne Kirkpatrick to lead NOPD:
If confirmed by the City Council, Kirkpatrick would replace Shaun Ferguson, who retired from the NOPD last year. The interim chief is Michelle Woodfork, a longtime veteran of the NOPD who also applied for the permanent position. Kirkpatrick’s nomination comes after she was fired from her previous job as the chief of police in Oakland in 2020.
She filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city of Oakland, alleging that she was terminated for exposing misconduct and corruption within the civilian commission that oversees the Oakland Police Department (OPD). She claimed that some commissioners tried to use their positions for personal gain, sought special treatment from the OPD, and interfered with the department’s operations.
She also accused the commission of harassing and intimidating her and other OPD staff. She eventually received a $1.5 million settlement from the city of Oakland. The city of Oakland denied Kirkpatrick’s allegations and argued that she was fired for legitimate reasons, such as failing to reduce crime and use of force, complying with a federal court order that monitors the OPD’s reform efforts, and cooperating with the commission.
The city also cited a survey that showed low morale and confidence among OPD officers under Kirkpatrick’s leadership. Kirkpatrick’s nomination has received mixed reactions from New Orleans officials and community members. Some have praised her as a qualified and experienced candidate who can bring positive changes to the NOPD.
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Others have expressed concerns about her controversial past and questioned the transparency and fairness of the selection process. Council Vice President Helena Moreno, who has been critical of the mayor’s handling of the search for a new chief, said she was not ready to endorse Kirkpatrick without further scrutiny.
“All I have asked for during the search for a new police chief is that the very best candidate be chosen in a transparent and fair process,” Moreno said in a statement. “Arguably, transparency has been an issue, but hopefully, more can be brought to light as we move toward the confirmation process. I look forward to learning more about Anne Kirkpatrick, her previous work, and most importantly, her plans to make the city of New Orleans safer and improve our NOPD.”
The confirmation process is expected to take several weeks. The City Council will hold public hearings to interview Kirkpatrick and solicit feedback from the public before making a final decision.