NOPD Supt. Shaun Ferguson announces retirement

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 2:17 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2022 at 4:32 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Amid building pressure, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson will retire from his position effective Dec. 22, according to city officials.

In a statement, Ferguson thanked the mayor and the citizens of New Orleans.

“It is vital that the community continue its support for this department,” the statement continues. “We need to support each other as we continue the work of making the city safe for its residents and visitors. After 24 years of service in a profession that takes a lot out of the individuals who answer this call, it is time for me to take a step back and place more priority on my family and my own well-being. I will still be your neighbor, and I will always be a part of the city that I love so much.”

“The City of New Orleans will soon bid farewell to a great leader, a great partner and a great friend. After 24 years of dedicated public service to the City of New Orleans, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson will retire at the end of this year. He gave this city his very best – the safety and wellbeing of each and every resident and visitor was always his top priority,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a statement.

The statement goes on to say:

“Since joining the NOPD in 1998, Chief Ferguson has served with honor, distinction and integrity. At the time of his appointment to Chief, he was serving as the Commander of the Educational and Training Division, which oversees the police academy. Prior to training the next generation of NOPD officers, he served as Commander of the Second District from 2016 to 2018. Before this, he commanded NOPD’s Fourth District from 2014 to 2016. He is also a member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

As Superintendent, Chief Ferguson helped shape the NOPD into a strong, trustworthy, professional and efficient department, capable of repairing the broken rapport between the NOPD and our citizens and business owners. His tenure as Chief saw the national rise in crime due to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but under his diligent leadership, the NOPD persevered. Over this last year, the city has seen serious reductions in crime, such as aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, business and residential burglaries and non-fatal shootings. We have also seen more illegal guns being taken off our streets, with nearly 2,500 illegal guns seized just this year. His community-focused approach has helped mend the relationships between our officers and our residents. We can see that Chief Ferguson’s strong commitment, willingness to consult with other public safety experts and his well-trained police force are making a difference in this city today.

I would like to extend the most heartfelt thank you to Chief Ferguson for your nearly 25 years of service, selflessness and sacrifice, especially in accepting my appointment of you as Chief in January 2019. Since then, the city has faced countless challenges – the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, two major hurricanes, a global pandemic, global inflation and a nationwide shortage of public safety personnel that New Orleans was certainly not immune to. Yet, you faced all of these seemingly insurmountable hurdles with dignity, grace and determination. Your steadfastness in the face of these challenges and tragedies certainly has been a source of comfort to your fellow officers, affected families and victims and our community overall.

I am grateful for the opportunity we had to work so closely together to improve our city’s public safety through a collaborative, holistic approach and through working in tandem with other City departments.”

City Council Vice President J.P. Morrell called for Ferguson’s resignation last week as the council worked to approve the city’s $1.5 billion budget, of which, $25 million would go towards a police recruitment and retention incentive package.

Council President Helena Moreno says her office recently conducted a survey that showed 85% of NOPD officers are dissatisfied with the department’s management. Officers’ grievances included cronyism, favoritism, and being promoted based on who you know and not on ability or experience, she said of the results.

“No matter how much money we throw at these officers, we’re not listening to them,” said Morrell. “We need a new Chief, period. We need a new Chief.”

“Superintendent Ferguson faced significant challenges over the past several years, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication to the people of our City. I appreciated the Chief’s recent willingness to listen to the community and the Council’s reform recommendations to help NOPD meet the demands of today,” Moreno said in a statement following the announcement. “Moving forward, there should be a national search for a new police chief to find the best candidate to lead the NOPD. We must ensure that the next chief commits to upholding constitutional policing and transforming the department. That is why any chosen candidate for chief must adhere to the City Council confirmation process widely endorsed by the voters of the City. It would be disingenuous to the appointee and the people of this city if there were any attempt to circumvent this process, therefore, I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage the public in a community discussion on this important next step.”

Mayor Cantrell has been steadfast in her support of Ferguson. She will now be tasked with appointing a replacement.

On Election Day (Nov. 8), New Orleans voters approved a Home Rule Charter change that gives the City Council power to confirm or deny mayoral appointees. That change does not go into effect until Jan. 1, meaning Cantrell could appoint a new police chief without council approval.

Sources tell FOX 8 recently promoted Deputy Superintendent Jonette Williams is the frontrunner to be tapped by Cantrell to replace Ferguson. The appointment would be a historic move. Williams would become the first woman to serve as New Orleans’ top law enforcement officer and the first Black female NOPD superintendent.

Jonette Williams was promoted to Deputy Superintendent in June of 2022.
Jonette Williams was promoted to Deputy Superintendent in June of 2022.(NOPD)

Former NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas says Ferguson “had to play a game with very little support.”

“I have been convinced since the day Shaun was appointed superintendent that he was going to do a great job. To this day I continue to think he’s done a great job. He was one of our young leaders that we identified when I was superintendent and I’m very proud of him,” said Serpas.

Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission says Ferguson was a dedicated officer and police chief.

“In 2020, everything changed so cold. COVID hit. The George Floyd social justice movement,” Goyeneche said. “As the number of officers started to go down, we saw a violent crime surge in the city - up 136% over the last three years. Shootings are up 87%. Carjackings are up 103% and armed robberies are up 29%.”

“It’s not because Shaun Ferguson didn’t know what to do. It’s not because Shaun Ferguson didn’t care. He didn’t have the political support from the political leadership to offer raises to officers that the crime commission and other groups called for in 2020. Without those raises, there was no way to retain veteran officers who left at historically high levels at a time when recruitment was impaired by COVID. So he has been the chief during the most troubling and trying times in the history of the city of New Orleans,” Goyeneche said.

Superintendent Ferguson has been with the NOPD for 24 years.
Superintendent Ferguson has been with the NOPD for 24 years.(NOPD)

Ferguson was sworn in as superintendent in January 2019 after serving as the Commander of the Educational and Training Division. Ferguson previously served as Commander of the NOPD’s Second District from 2016-2018. He also commanded the NOPD’s Fourth District from 2014-2016.

Ferguson, a native of New Orleans, is a graduate of O. Perry Walker High School in 1990 and joined the NOPD in December 1998. During his tenure, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern University of New Orleans, where he also received a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

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