Serpas says criticism not a factor in retirement decision

As Chief Ronal Serpas announced his retirement Monday, he indicated the timing of his decision was based solely on a business opportunity.

While he didn't say what his future holds, he denied his decision had anything to do with the recent criticism he's faced.

"Being a police chief in a major American city is one of the toughest jobs, probably the toughest next to being Mayor. There's always going to be critics, and I think every leader should recognize the difference between critics, criticism and getting the job done," Serpas said.

Serpas, however, leaves the department with depleted ranks and, by most accounts, low morale has been a long-standing problem.

"It's a morale issue. Some folks in the community and some folks that have been in law enforcement believe it's a leadership issue," said City Councilman Jason Williams.

Williams spoke openly with FOX 8 Friday about why a change in leadership would make a difference. He compared the NOPD to the New Orleans Saints.

"Years ago, folks called us the New Orleans Aints. People had bags on their heads. We changed the leadership. We got a new coach and we won the Super Bowl. I think the people of New Orleans may desire new leadership," Williams said.

While other council members admit having concerns, they said they never considered replacing him.

"There are people who said Serpas was bad for morale. However, I am not aware of anyone poling anyone about taking a vote to get rid of Serpas," said Councilman James Gray.

"There were conversations going around, but I think right now we're just celebrating that we have Chief Harrison there, and this a new beginning for us," said Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey.

Council President Stacy Head and Council Woman Latoya Cantrell released statements. Both thanked Serpas for his leadership over the past four years stating that he's brought positive change. Now they seem focused on the future of the NOPD.

"We want to make sure with Chief Harrison that we have someone that's going to be engaged in the community and to make sure that we have a plan to attack this very difficult issues that are affecting us," Ramsey said.

Council members believe the biggest challenge for Harrison moving forward will be reducing crime. They also said they're pleased with Mayor Landrieu's decision.

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