NOPD Supt. Ferguson is ready to help whoever succeeds him; criminologist calls for a national search
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Outcoming NOPD Supt. Shaun Ferguson pledges to help whoever is named his successor. And a local criminologist adds his voice to those calling for a national search for the new police chief.
Ferguson addressed his decision to retire as the city’s top cop during a press conference at NOPD headquarters on Wednesday (Dec. 7).
“Whomever is selected I will be here to assist them during their transition, while on the job and even after leaving the job,” said Ferguson.
He took the helm of the police department in 2019 and joined the NOPD 24 years ago. But after battling a stubborn violent crime problem, Ferguson has decided to retire. He says Mayor Latoya Cantrell did not force him to leave and that his decision is rooted in his desire to spend more time with his family.
Dillard University criminologist Ashraf Esmail, Ph.D., says the crime problem has some citizens unnerved.
“We’re at a crossroads right now in this city. The fear of crime is at an all-time high, you know, citizens don’t feel comfortable, don’t feel safe,” said Esmail.
And Esmail does not think that Cantrell should rush to name Ferguson’s replacement. He thinks the city should cast a wide net as it searches for a new leader of the NOPD.
“I think there should be a national search but that doesn’t mean you can’t consider internal candidates; they can be part of the national search,” said Esmail. “I think you want to be thorough, in terms, of your evaluation at any entity, including NOPD, in terms of finding the right person with the right credentials with the right vision.”
And according to the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System, Ferguson entered the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) effective June 28, 2022, and based on his years of service and his average final compensation of $192, 816.80, his monthly DROP benefit is $12,524.50.
The shortage of police officers is not limited to New Orleans and Esmail is not certain about the crop of candidates for police chief nationwide.
“Right now, that’s a tough question to answer. I mean retention across the country has been difficult just getting law enforcement, people interested in law enforcement, and given where we are in New Orleans, I mean there’s a lot of heat right now with our homicide rate and violent crime up 141%,” he said.
Former NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas who served under Mayor Mitch Landrieu says leading a police department is not easy.
“I think it’s always been a challenge and it will be a challenge but what makes it worthwhile and I’m sure this is why Shaun wanted to do it and Michael Harrison and me and all the others is because the people who need help, need help and when you’re the police chief you have a chance to direct things that way,” he said.
Esmail says eradicating crime is not just about police officers.
“In terms of preventing crime and lowering the crime rate I think we have larger issues going on beyond policing but unfortunately a lot of the blame goes to the police,” he said.
Still, Esmail thinks the city should be deliberate about choosing Ferguson’s replacement.
“I think the decision really needs to be carefully done,” he said.
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