Embattled New Orleans 911 center head steps down before board’s vote
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Tyrell Morris, outgoing director of the Orleans Parish Communications District, abruptly announced he was stepping down Monday (July 10), amid multiple ongoing investigations into a crash in his city-owned vehicle and accusations he later altered city documents.
The move comes ahead of a meeting of the OPCD board of commissioners scheduled for Tuesday, during which they were expected to vote on whether Morris would stay at the helm until his preferred mid-September resignation date or be suspended or terminated sooner.
“Director Morris expressed that he felt the recent overwhelming media attention was beginning to distract from the heroic work the team at Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) does each and every day to ensure the safety of both our residents and visitors and felt it was best to step away to protect the mission and integrity of the organization,” a statement from John Thomas, chairman of the OPCD, said. “It is imperative to be clear that the Board did not request Director Morris to take this action.”
Morris is under investigation for allegedly altering the OPCD take-home vehicle policy after he was involved in a crash in his city-owned vehicle on May 7.
Last week, the board met to discuss the allegations and decided to defer any action until Tuesday.
The longest-serving OPCD commissioner, Dr. Brobson Lutz, said he would have preferred firing Morris.
“A termination last week would have certainly been my choice,” Lutz said.
“The recent events have destroyed a lot of the confidence in the 911 commission and it’s going to take a long time to win back that confidence. The commission has never been at such a low point as we have recently.”
In a resignation letter he submitted at the end of June, Morris announced he would step down in September.
In light of the allegations, some city council members called for immediate action to be taken.
“The OPCD Board needs to work swiftly to find a new director who will work full time to improve 911 response and correct the issues of mismanagement,” Council vice president Helena Moreno said. “This is an opportunity to now move forward with a new qualified leader for an organization that deals with our city’s most serious emergencies.
“To prevent issues in the future, the Council will work with our local state legislators to re-work the OPCD Board membership and allow for City Council oversight. While it is disappointing that the board never held Mr. Morris accountable for any of his actions, the investigation by the Office of Investigator General is ongoing.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she would wait for the investigations to play out before getting involved.
Next, board members would appoint an interim 911 call center chief while they search for a full-time replacement. Lutz says the goal is to also restore confidence in the 911 call center.
“It’s going to take getting a director on board who is experienced in 911 communications, who knows the city, somebody just like the director we had before Mayor Cantrell displaced him,” Lutz stated.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Subscribe to the Fox 8 YouTube channel.
Copyright 2023 WVUE. All rights reserved.