Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local Newscast
Hear the latest from the WRKF/WWNO Newsroom.

New Orleans City Council confirms Anne Kirkpatrick as police chief

Anne Kirkpatrick, then police chief in Oakland, Calif., stands before a baseball game, July 25, 2017, in San Francisco.
Jeff Chiu
Anne Kirkpatrick, then police chief in Oakland, Calif., stands before a baseball game, July 25, 2017, in San Francisco.

Following a first-of-its-kind confirmation process, New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to confirm Mayor LaToya Cantrell's nominee for head of police.

Council members voted 6-1 to approve Anne Kirkpatrick as the city’s next — and first permanent — female police chief. Oliver Thomas was the lone council member to vote against.

Before the vote, Kirkpatrick expressed her gratitude to have made it this far in the process.

"I will be all in on everything associated with the safety of this city to embrace the culture, to embrace the traditions and uphold them," she said.

During public comment, some people criticized Kirkpatrick, repeating concerns raised throughout her confirmation process — mainly that she isn't from New Orleans and has faced multiple controversies during her career in law enforcement.

Many said they preferred Michelle Woodfork, a New Orleans native, 31-year veteran of the force, and one of three finalists, to be the next head of police.

Woodfork was tapped to run the department after former chief Shaun Ferguson retired last December and was initially thought to be Cantrell’s top choice. Violent crime rates dropped across the city during her nine months as interim chief. And, for the first time in two years, the city saw 12 consecutive days with no homicides in early September.

Others voiced enthusiastic support for Kirkpatrick on Thursday — and throughout the process — noting her lengthy resume and apparent willingness to interact with the public.

Kirkpatrick’s confirmation marks the first time the council has had power over a mayoral appointment after a change to the city’s charter last November granted them final approval.

Still, audience and council members pointed to what they described as a lack of transparency by the Cantrell administration and the group hired to search for the city’s next police chief.

“We got a national search, but not a public one,” Council President JP Morrell said Thursday before the vote, adding it was unfortunate that the selection committee didn’t require public participation.

“Had they done so, many of the concerns raised by the public would have been addressed before the selection was made,” he said.

Cantrell thanked council members for confirming Kirkpatrick in a statement, describing her as the best candidate.

“[Her] experience and knowledge are unmatched, and I have the utmost confidence that she will continue to build off the progress already being made by our department,” she wrote.

Kirkpatrick, who is 64 years old, last served as a police chief in Oakland, California, and has worked in law enforcement for more than 40 years.

She said she plans to prioritize addressing the department's long-standing federal consent decree, staff shortages and low morale among officers during her first few months as chief.

Aubri Juhasz covers K-12 education, focusing on charter schools, education funding, and other statewide issues. She also helps edit the station’s news coverage.