Ronal Serpas retires as superintendent of New Orleans Police Department

Armando Marin, News Editor

Ronal Serpas, New Orleans Police Department superintendent, announced his retirement in a press conference Monday. Lieutenant Michael Harrison, current commander of the seventh district, will serve as Interim NOPD superintendent until a new permanent superintendent is selected. 

Serpas had served as superintendent since May 2010. He said talks concerning his retirement began early this summer, and that he believed it was necessary to find new leadership within NOPD.

“After Mayor [Mitch] Landrieu was re-elected, after my 34 years of service and my decision to retire, we both recognized that it was time to hand the reigns over to new leadership in the department,” Serpas said.

Serpas will begin teaching criminal justice at Loyola University New Orleans in the fall. 

Serpas previously served as an NOPD officer in the ’80s and ’90s, chief of the Nashville Metropolitan Police and chief of police for the Washington State Patrol.

During Serpas’ tenure as NOPD superintendent, homicides have dropped to their lowest rate in more than 30 years and other crime rates have remained flat, according to a press release from Landrieu’s office. Serpas operated under the NOLAForLife strategy, which created a gang unit in partnership with state and federal agencies and strengthened the homicide unit. Serpas said his work and the dedication of his police officers resulted in much-needed change in the city. 

“This has been a great run under very difficult circumstances,” Serpas said. “When I came back in 2010, we needed dramatic changes. Together with Mayor Landrieu and the brave men and women of the force, we have turned this department around and laid a strong foundation for the future.”

Serpas has also been involved with several national and international police leadership organizations, serving as the second vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the world’s largest nonprofit organization of police executives with over 16,000 members from 94 countries.

Harrison has been a member of NOPD for more than 23 years and has served as commander of the seventh district, which includes much of eastern New Orleans, since January 2012. Under his leadership, the district experienced crime reductions in 2012 and 2013. Harrison was a staunch supporter of enforcing prostitution and solicitation laws. During his years at NOPD, Harrison has also been a part of the Public Integrity Bureau and served as commander of the Special Investigations Division in 2011 and 2012. Before joining the police force, he was a member of the Louisiana Air National Guard for eight years. 

Harrison said being a police officer and assuming the superintendent position is very important to him and that he hopes NOPD improves its relationship with the New Orleans community. 

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to help lead this department through this transition,” Harrison said. “I believe policing is one of the noblest professions. The men and women of this department put their lives on the line each and every day. Public safety is at the core of our city, intersecting with quality of life, education, economic development and community pride, so we must continue to work to improve the relationship between NOPD and our community and will continue to make our streets safer.”

The process to select a new permanent superintendent will begin at upcoming budgeting community meetings, where Landrieu will seek input from community leaders and members.