New Orleans Police Department

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has primary responsibility for law enforcement in New Orleans, Louisiana. The department's jurisdiction covers all of Orleans Parish, while the city is divided into eight police districts.

New Orleans Police Department
New Orleans, LA Police.jpg
NOPD badge.png
Agency overview
Employees1457 (2020)
Annual budget$194 million (2020)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Map of Louisiana and USA highlighting Orleans Parish.png
Map of New Orleans Police Department's jurisdiction
Size350.2 square miles (907 km2)
Population391,006 (2018)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters715 S. Broad Street
Officers1,213 (2019)
Agency executive
Central lockups1

The NOPD has a long history of civil rights violations, corruption and poor oversight.[2] Since 2012, the NOPD has been in a federal consent decree where it has to implement sweeping reforms to address a wide array of structural problems identified by the U.S. Department of Justice in a 2011 report.[3][4]


African American New Orleans Police officer, 1871, sketched by Alfred Waud
Battle of Liberty Place-charge on the police and militia

After New Orleans was founded by French colonists in 1718, the policing of the city was done by military forces. These were alternating French, Spanish and French under differing governmental rule. The formation of the New Orleans Police Department was first recorded in 1796, during the administration of Baron Francisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet. The account said, "Crime had reached such proportions by the mid-1790s that a full-time city police force was required."[5]

The New Orleans police were highly militarized from the late 1700s onwards, as it policed large concentrations of slaves.[6] New Orleans police were in stark contrast to police in the Northern United States at the time, which were far less militarized.[6]

On November 8, 1803, Mayor Etienne de Boré held the first council meeting, and appoints a committee to inspect prisons and formulate police rules. He also appoints Pierre Achille Rivery Commissioner General of Police, with 25 agents at his head. They are quickly forced to resign as a result of numerous complaints, and the city authorized to engage mulattoes, which are placed under the authority of white officers, became a part of the United States on December 20, 1803 by virtue of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1804 a patrol militia was organized under James Pitot, the Mayor of New Orleans, two years later the body dissolved.[7] With urbanization, in 1817, the city had 46 commissioners, it was divided into four police districts (Old Square, Faubourg Tremé (in), St. Mary and Faubourg Marigny). Given the inefficiency of this one, committees of "vigilantes" are created in the years 1820–1830. In 1836, the city was divided into three separate municipalities, each with an autonomous police force.

In July 1866 Republicans called for a Louisiana Constitutional Convention at the Mechanics Institute in New Orleans, as they were angered by the legislature's passage of Black Codes and failure to provide suffrage for free men of color and freedmen. Blacks marched in support of the convention, and were attacked on the street by a white mob, made up of ex-Confederate veterans. This was later called the New Orleans Riot of 1866. The mob killed 34 black citizens and three white Republicans; estimates of wounded ranged from 48 to more than 100, mostly black.[8] The riot "stemmed from deeply rooted political, social, and economic causes," and took place in part because of the battle "between two opposing factions for power and office."[9] The governor called in federal troops to restore order. The riots in New Orleans and Memphis that year contributed to Congressional passage of Reconstruction legislation and domination of the state by military forces for several years.

Violence continued in the state and city related to each election, particularly before and after the disputed gubernatorial election of 1872. Tensions continued, although the federal government had certified the Republican slate and William Kellogg as governor. In September 1874, in the so-called Battle of Liberty Place, 5,000 members of the White League entered the city in an attempted takeover of state buildings to seat John McEnery, the Democratic candidate for governor. Well-armed, they overwhelmed the 3500 members of the integrated Metropolitan police force, blacks and Republicans, and occupied the state armory and other buildings for three days. Learning that federal troops were arriving by ship, the White League forces retreated from the city. The Louisiana State Museum reports that 11 Metropolitans were killed and 60 wounded, while 16 White Leaguers were killed and 45 wounded.[10]

The October 1890 murder of Police Chief David Hennessey resulted in the lynching of eleven suspects[11]
Between July 24 and July 28, 1900, a violent suspect Robert Charles resisted arrest and killed four police officers and mortally wounded one.[12]

Mounted police during New Orleans Mardi Gras 1984

Early 21st centuryEdit

Ronal Serpas, 2010

The NOPD has a long history of civil rights violations, corruption and poor oversight.[2] In 2011, a Department of Justice report found that the NOPD had structural problems that led officers to engage in constitutional violations and discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, and LGBT status.[4][13] The DOJ also found that the NOPD's "culture tolerates and encourages under-enforcement and under-investigation of violence against women."[4] The report concluded, "the NOPD has long been a troubled agency. Basic elements of effective policing— clear policies, training, accountability, and confidence of the citizenry—have been absent for years."[4] As a consequence of the DOJ investigation, the DOJ and the city of New Orleans entered into a consent decree in 2012 where the NOPD had to implement sweeping reforms.[2]

In 2014, Superintendent Ronal W. Serpas retired from the New Orleans Police Department after 21 years of service. Before retiring, Superintendent Serpas attained the civil service rank of major and the appointed position of assistant superintendent of the NOPD. Superintendent Serpas was preceded by Warren J. Riley, who retired with the change of the mayoral administration on May 2, 2010. Riley had been preceded by Eddie Compass and Richard Pennington.

During a press conference on June 25, 2010, Superintendent Serpas announced several reforms to the New Orleans Police Department. Superintendent Serpas reduced the number of deputy superintendents from six to four, and decided that only two of those positions would be held by commissioned officers. Serpas announced that Marlon Defillo, current Assistant Superintendent of the Bureau of Investigations, would take on a new role as the Deputy Chief of the Operations Bureau. Current Deputy Chief Kirk Bouyelas would also take on a new role as Deputy Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau. The two civilian deputy chiefs were to be Ms. Arlinda Westbrook, Deputy Chief (Civilian) in charge of the Public Integrity Bureau, and Ms. Stephanie Landry, Deputy Chief (Civilian) in charge of the Management Services Bureau. Serpas also reduced the rank of eleven appointed Majors to their proper civil service rank of captain. Also in the slew of changes, Serpas reassigned 25 of the current 37 Captains within the department. Superintendent Serpas announced on June 23, 2010, that the majority of his highest-ranking commissioned officers – for example, majors and deputy chiefs – would be summarily demoted effective June 27 to captain, the latter rank thereby returning as the de facto rank of district station commander.[14] As a courtesy, many personnel continue to address district commanders with the honorific "Major." As of July 2010, only two officers – Treadaway and Burkart – retain the rank of major, both of whom were appointed to the position by civil service.

Also in accordance with the above changes, two of Serpas's deputy chiefs swapped responsibilities, while two others were replaced by civilian personnel, bringing the net count of deputy chiefs from six to four.[15]

On March 1, 2011, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission unanimously approved Superintendent Serpas' proposal to create a new pay plan for 16 new "Police Commanders". Serpas originally asked the commission to approve 16 "Colonel's" positions. The new "Commanders" will be third in the command structure of the New Orleans Police Department, only ranked lower than the superintendent and deputy superintendents. In June 2011, 1 additional commander position was created for the Reserve Division. All other personnel, including the two majors, will be subordinate to these individuals.[16] The Police Commanders are responsible for the 17 "Core Components" of the NOPD, including the 8 Patrol Districts and nine other units as noted below.

In mid-2015, press reports indicated that the department was able to clear less than a third of its homicide cases.[17]

Shaun D. Ferguson has been the Superintendent of Police since January 18, 2019. Former Superintendents have included Michael S. Harrison, Ronal W. Serpas, Eddie Compass, Richard Pennington, Arnesta Taylor, Warren Woodfork, Henry Morris, James Parsons, Clarence Giarrusso and Joseph Giarrusso.


Murder of Kim Groves (1994)Edit

Officer Len Davis was found guilty and was sentenced to death for ordering hit-man Paul Hardy to murder Kim Groves, a 32-year-old mother of three children. Groves had filed a police brutality complaint against Davis with Internal Affairs the previous day, and a fellow officer tipped Davis about the charge.[18] Hardy was sentenced to life in prison.

Antoinette Frank (1995)Edit

On March 4, 1995, Officer Antoinette Frank robbed a local restaurant, and killed two of the owner's children, as well as her own partner who was working security at the business. She was sentenced to death.[19]

Hurricane Katrina (2005)Edit

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, ninety-one officers resigned or retired and another 228 were investigated for abandoning their posts.[20]

Danziger Bridge shootingsEdit

One report of violence involved a police shooting of six citizens on the Danziger Bridge, which carries the Chef Menteur Highway (US 90) across the Industrial Canal. These citizens were reportedly attacking contractors of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved in the 17th Street Canal repair. Other reports alleged people seeking refuge on the bridge from the flood were fired on without provocation.[21] The shootings left two dead and four injured. Subsequently, seven NOPD officers were indicted on murder charges in connection with the incident known as the "Danziger 7". The case was dropped when the prosecutor who brought the charges, Eddie Jordan, resigned his position following charges of corruption and a judgment against him in a racial discrimination lawsuit. On August 13, 2008, District Judge Raymond Bigelow dismissed the case based on misconduct by the prosecution.[22] On August 5, 2011, a New Orleans Federal Court jury convicted five police officers of a myriad of charges related to the cover-up and deprivation of civil rights.[23]

Robert Evangelist, Lance Schilling, and Stewart SmithEdit

On October 8, 2005, three officers, Robert Evangelist, Lance Schilling, and Stewart Smith beat up 64-year-old Robert Davis outside a bar in the French Quarter.[24] The beating was videotaped by an AP crew. A few days after the incident, the officers showed up at court and pleaded not guilty.[25] In March 2006, the three officers were convicted. Evangelist was charged with false imprisonment while armed and second-degree battery, Schilling was also charged with second-degree battery, and Smith was charged with simple battery. Both Evangelist and Schilling were charged with battery against Davis, while Smith was charged with battery against an AP reporter.[26] Davis was charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery, and public intimidation.[27]

Jeff WinnEdit

In late May 2011, Captain Jeff Winn was fired and a number of other officers were reassigned for concealing details concerning the killing of Henry Glover in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[28]

Joshua Colclough (2012)Edit

In August 2012, Officer Joshua Colclough pleaded guilty to manslaughter in his killing of an unarmed man during a drug raid. He was sentenced to four years in jail.[29]

U.S. Department of Justice consent decree (2012)Edit

The NOPD entered into a consent decree in 2012 with the U.S. Department of Justice. A U.S. DOJ investigation led to a 2011 written report alleging unconstitutional conduct by the NOPD and describing concerns re NOPD policies and procedures.[30]

Maurice Palmer (2013)Edit

In April 2013, former Officer Maurice Palmer was sentenced to five years' probation for failing to file federal income tax forms.[31]

Quincy Jones and Rafael Dobard (2014)Edit

In February 2014, Officers Quincy Jones and Rafael Dobard pleaded guilty to charges relating to faking time sheets and embezzling money from the department.[32]

Desmond Pratt (2014)Edit

In March 2014, Detective Desmond Pratt pleaded guilty to sexual assault of three underaged girls. He was sentenced to three years in state custody.[33]

Rank structureEdit

Title[34] Command Insignia Shirt Address Salary* (2016) Number (2020)
Superintendent Police Department White "Superintendent"
or "Chief"
Unclassified 1
Chief Deputy Superintendent Bureau White "Chief"
or "Chief Deputy"
126,066 1
Deputy Superintendent Bureau White "Chief"
or "Deputy Chief"
126,066 4
Captain Division,
Unit, Section
White "Captain" 87,502 18
Lieutenant Platoon,
District Unit,
Blue "Lieutenant" 80,029 71
Sergeant Major

Honorary Rank

Task Force
Blue "Sergeant Major" 54,421 1 [35][36]
Sergeant Sector,
Task Force
Blue "Sergeant" 73,262 195


Detective Investigations,
as Officers
Plainclothes "Detective" 5.8%
Officer IV Patrol,
Blue "Officer" 67,136 72%
Officer III (see above) Blue "Officer" 61,588 (see above)
Officer II (see above) Blue "Officer" 56,566 (see above)
Officer I (see above) Blue "Officer" 50,449 (see above)
Reserve (same as regular Officers) Blue "Officer" Unpaid volunteer 85
Recruit (Field) N/A N/A "Recruit" 40,329 N/A
Recruit (Academy) N/A N/A "Recruit" 40,329 N/A

Notes: *The State of Louisiana provides $6,000 supplemental annual pay after one year of service.[37] Additional annual pay is merited for the following degrees:[38] Associates: $1,000; Bachelor's: $2,000; Graduate: $3,000 (Master's, Doctorate)

STRUCTURE CHANGE AS OF OCTOBER 2019: The position of Commander has been removed since courts have ruled that it was illegally created as an unclassified position where an already existing classified position performed the same duties (Captain). A previous version of the Commander rank was used for Captains placed in command of one of the 8 police districts. Insignia for this rank involved Captain bars modified with a wreath around it.

The civil service rank of Major has been used before in certain high level command positions above the rank of Captain but below the Deputy Superintendents. All officers holding this rank have either retired or been promoted, and no promotions for this position have taken place in more than a decade.


Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of NOPD:[39]

  • Male: 85%
  • Female: 15%
  • African-American/Black: 51%
  • White: 46%
  • Hispanic: 2%
  • Asian: 1%

Hurricane KatrinaEdit

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, shooting, violence and other criminal activity became serious concerns to the authorities, who overreacted. While most of the attention of the authorities focused on rescue efforts, some sought to distract attention from the rescue efforts to police the stranded citizens.[40] By August 30, looting had spread throughout the city, often in broad daylight and sometimes in the view of police officers. City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson told the Associated Press, "The looting is out of control - the French Quarter has been attacked. We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue."[41] But these fears turned out to be largely exaggerated and hampered rescue efforts.

Incapacitated by the breakdown of transportation and communication, police officers did little to stop crime or help citizens left behind. Shopkeepers who remained behind were left to defend their property alone. Although there were some instances of violent armed robbery of nonessential valuable goods, most incidents were of residents simply gathering food, water and other essential commodities from unstaffed grocery stores. There were also reports of looting by some police officers, and the beating of a teacher by three officers was caught on camera.[42] Those three officers were later arrested.

Over 200 NOPD officers deserted the city during the storm. Police chief Warren Riley said 60 officers were fired and 25 were suspended.[43] Most of the suspensions ranged from 30–90 days, and most of the officers were exonerated.[42] These officers were given the opportunity to explain their actions before the deputy chief in a tribunal-like hearing, after which 85% of the officers who deserted were terminated. The ones who stayed during Katrina were awarded with a Hurricane Katrina lapel pin to be worn on the uniform. It is shaped like the star and crescent badge, with a hurricane emblem in the center of the star.

New Orleans Police vehicle in 2009

Prior to Katrina, the New Orleans Police Department was notable as being one of the few major departments in the country whose officers sported powder blue uniform shirts instead of the dark or navy blue shirts used by the majority of police forces nationwide. In the wake of Katrina, however, the department switched to a dark blue uniform shirt in order to avoid potential problems from people, including officers dismissed after the hurricane who may have attempted to illegally pass themselves off as police officers. Beginning on Friday, February 13, 2009, during the annual Mardi Gras celebration, NOPD officers permanently returned to wearing powder blue uniform shirts.[citation needed]

In fall 2007, the Fox television network dramatized post-Katrina New Orleans in the short-lived police drama K-Ville starring Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser as NOPD detectives working for the Felony Action Squad (FAS).

Personnel shortageEdit

As of July 2015, the New Orleans Police Department had 1,106 officers on the force.[44] Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the NOPD had 1,742 commissioned police officers.[45] The NOPD was actively recruiting to increase manpower in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which preceded an unusually high number of resignations.


New Orleans police officers have worn a unique "Star and Crescent" badge since 1855. While the star is a traditional law enforcement symbol, the crescent symbolizes the crescent shape of the Mississippi River around New Orleans. Patrolmen wear silver badges, while higher-ranking officers, as well as detectives, wear gold badges. [46]

Since the late 19th century, NOPD superintendents have traditionally worn their badges inverted, although not every superintendent has done so.[46][47]




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sullivan, Carl; Baranauckas, Carla (June 26, 2020). "Here's how much money goes to police departments in largest cities across the U.S." USA Today. Archived from the original on July 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Times-Picayune, Brendan McCarthy, The. "Sweeping NOPD reform strategy outlined in federal consent decree". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  3. ^ Sledge, Matt. "Has the NOPD cleaned up its act? Police force could get seal of approval by July, monitors say". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  4. ^ a b c d "Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice. 2011.
  5. ^ New Orleans Police Department, City of New Orleans website
  6. ^ a b Rousey, Dennis Charles (1996). Policing the Southern City: New Orleans, 1805-1889. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-2046-0.
  7. ^ Asher, Ruth. History of the New Orleans Police Department (1984)
  8. ^ Bell, Caryn Cossé (1997). Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana 1718-1868. Baton-Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 262.
  9. ^ Vandal, Gilles (1984). The New Orleans Riot of 1866: Anatomy of a Tragedy, Center for Louisiana Studies, p. 137
  10. ^ "Reconstruction I: A State Divided".
  11. ^ ODMP memorial Hennessey
  12. ^ Odmp memorial Sgt Gabriel Porteous.
  13. ^ Gaynor, Tia Sherèe; Blessett, Brandi (2021). "Predatory Policing, Intersectional Subjection, and the Experiences of LGBTQ People of Color in New Orleans". Urban Affairs Review. doi:10.1177/10780874211017289. ISSN 1078-0874.
  14. ^ NOPD Chief Demotes High-Ranking Officers
  15. ^ mayor and police chief announce Major Reorganization of Police Force
  16. ^ Brendan McCarthy (March 1, 2011). "Overhaul of NOPD's upper ranks gets Civil Service Commission approval". The Times-Picayune.
  17. ^ "Solving Homicides" (4 July 2015). The Economist. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  18. ^ "Len Davis sentenced to death for murder of Kim Groves".
  19. ^ "Kim Anh killer appeals death sentence" New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 19, 2006.
  20. ^ Horne, Jed (July 2006). Breach of Faith (Kindle ed.). 3093. ISBN 1400065526.CS1 maint: location (link)
  21. ^ "New Orleans officers charged with murder". December 29, 2006.
  22. ^ "New Orleans cops cleared in bridge shooting". 13 August 2008.
  23. ^ "Danziger Bridge jury form details charges against 5 guilty NOPD officers".
  24. ^ Leithead, Alistair (October 10, 2005). "New Orleans policemen suspended". BBC News. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  25. ^ Hauser, Christine; Drew, Christopher (October 11, 2005). "3 Police Officers Deny Battery Charges After Videotaped Beating in New Orleans (Published 2005)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  26. ^ "3 New Orleans officers indicted in taped beating". NBC News. March 29, 2006. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  27. ^ Mount, Harrison (October 11, 2005). "New Orleans police beat up black man". The Telegraph. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  28. ^ NOPD Captain Jeff Winn fired; had been reassigned after testifying in Henry Glover killing, March 25, 2011, New Orleans Times-Picayune
  29. ^ Freund, Helen (August 16, 2013). "Ex-NOPD officer pleads guilty to manslaughter, gets 4 years in prison, in slaying of Wendell Allen". Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "NOPD - Consent Decree - City of New Orleans".
  31. ^ New release from the US district attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana "FORMER NOPD OFFICER, MAURICE R. PALMER, SENTENCED FOR TAX EVASION" dated April 25, 2013
  32. ^ Two New Orleans police officers plead guilty in theft, fraud conspiracy, 13 February 2014, by Juliet Linderman, New Orleans Times-Picayune
  33. ^ Ex-New Orleans detective pleads guilty to sexually assaulting three girls, by Carol Kuruvilla March 29, 2014, NY Daily News
  34. ^ "New Orleans Police Department Operations Manual Chapter: 41.10 Title: Uniform Specifications" (PDF). Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  35. ^ "NOPD sergeant has no plans of slowing down, even after six decades on the streets". WWL. October 4, 2018. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  36. ^ "NOPD officer who's been on the force for 59 years gets surprise promotion". October 5, 2018. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  37. ^ New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation: Salary & Benefits
  38. ^ City of New Orleans - Police Department: Salary & Benefits
  39. ^ "Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-27.
  40. ^ New Orleans Police Department: Initial (30-day) After Action Report - Summary Archived
  41. ^ Treaster, Joseph B.; Newman, Maria (August 30, 2005). "Rescuers Search for Survivors as Higher Death Tolls Are Feared". New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  42. ^ a b "New Orleans fires AWOL police officers". NBC News. December 8, 2005. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  43. ^ Foster, Mary (December 9, 2005). "60 New Orleans Police Fired". CBS News. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  44. ^ "After Katrina: Washed Away?" (PDF). June 4, 2016.
  45. ^ "Improving Recruitment and Retention in the New Orleans Police Department".
  46. ^ a b About Us: History of the NOPD Badge, New Orleans Police Department (last accessed April 6, 2021).
  47. ^ Danny Monteverde, Next NOPD chief has a choice about upholding a longstanding tradition, WWL-TV (January 14, 2019).
  48. ^
  49. ^ a b c

External linksEdit