Embattled New Orleans mayor appoints interim police chief amid crime surge, recall effort

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Embattled New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appointed a temporary police superintendent Monday to replace the police department’s outgoing chief amid a surge in violent crime and a recall effort against her

Cantrell tapped New Orleans police Capt. Michelle Woodfork to become the first female police superintendent in the history of the New Orleans Police Department beginning Thursday.

Woodfork will replace NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson, who led the department for four years before announcing his retirement last month. She is also a 32-year veteran of the force and the niece of former NOPD Superintendent Warren Woodfork.

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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and newly appointed interim New Orleans Police Department Supt. Michelle Woodfork. 

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and newly appointed interim New Orleans Police Department Supt. Michelle Woodfork. 
(Mayor LaToya Cantrell)

“I am laser-focused on leaving the New Orleans Police Department in the best possible state that it can be when it is my time to retire,” Woodfork said during a Monday news conference to announce her interim appointment. “My number one priority is to protect and serve the citizens and visitors of the great city of New Orleans.”

City leaders have called on Cantrell to conduct a national search for a new chief. She would have to get approval from the City Council to appoint a permanent chief after Jan. 1. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the mayor’s office. 

Ferguson’s tenure as chief was marked by a number of setbacks, including the Hard Rock Hotel building collapse in the city’s French Quarter, dwindling police manpower as more officers leave the department and an uptick in violent crime. The city is in the midst of experiencing a post-pandemic surge in homicides and carjackings

Newly appointed interim New Orleans Police Department Supt. Michelle Woodfork.

Newly appointed interim New Orleans Police Department Supt. Michelle Woodfork.
(New Orleans Police Department)

“We don’t have time to waste,” Cantrell said Monday. “Every day will continue to count as it relates to moving our department forward, strengthening our operations, our crime-fighting efforts and, of course, pivoting very heavily on retention and recruitment.”

Ferguson’s departure comes as Cantrell faces a recall effort one year after easily winning re-election. Recall organizers have cited the city’s crime woes as well as the mayor’s questionable overseas trips and travel spending.

“The national term ‘quiet quitting,’ that’s what our mayor has done,” Eileen Carter, Cantrell’s former social media manager who partnered with Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste, a former New Orleans mayoral candidate, to file the recall petition over the summer, previously told Fox News Digital. “Our mayor literally won’t say the word ‘crime.’ She has disassociated herself from crime. She refuses to be involved it in at all.”

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Critics have said Cantrell has done little to address the city’s crime problem. In September, New Orleans overtook St, Louis, Missouri to become the country’s so-called “murder capital.” 

Citywide, homicides in which a firearm was used were up nearly 24% as of Tuesday, according to police data. Armed robberies are also up 49% as well compared to 2021. 



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