New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell chose Anne Kirkpatrick, a former chief of police in Spokane, Wash., and Oakland, Calif., to head the New Orleans Police Department, a nomination subject to City Council approval. Kirkpatrick would be the permanent replacement for Shaun Ferguson, who retired last year. The post has been held on an interim basis by Michelle Woodfork, a longtime veteran of the New Orleans department, who had also applied for the job, reports the Associated Press. “With over 35 years of experience in law enforcement, coupled with 20 years of leading police departments of even larger municipalities, Kirkpatrick has proven that she is more than capable and has what it takes to now lead the world-class NOPD,” Cantrell said.
Kirkpatrick was chief in Spokane for six years. She was tapped to help with police reform efforts in Chicago under then-Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in 2017. She left that job soon afterward to head up Oakland’s police department, where she was fired in 2020. She filed a whistleblower claim against the city, alleging she was fired for calling out unethical behavior by the civilian commission that oversees the police department. She eventually received a $1.5 million payment. Kirkpatrick has been hailed as a reformer by her supporters. In New Orleans, she would head a police department that has been operating under a broad reform agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that was approved by a federal judge in 2013. It was the result of federal investigations growing out of deadly police shootings of civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.