by Matt Davis
Mayor Mitch Landrieu was joined by Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas at city hall this afternoon to announce a major restructuring of the city's police department aimed at saving $15 million.
Mayor Landrieu (center) with Police Superintendent Serpas (left) and new Deputy Superintendent Arlinda Pierce Westbrook of the Public Integrity Bureau (right).
"We're going to take the fight to the streets where it belongs," said Mayor Landrieu. "And not in police headquarters where it seems to be at this moment."
Chief Serpas said the plan is designed to cut down on "bloated senior executive leadership" in the department. He said the reshuffle would create "clear lines of accountability, clear lines of responsibility, clear lines of authority," and that "we're going to be giving people jobs they deserve."
"When I got here I was surprised to find out that deputy chiefs were only supervising in some cases four or five people," he said. "For example we're not going to have one captain in charge of one person in the radio shop any more. I mean, that's gonna end on Sunday."
Serpas will cut the number of deputy superintendents fom six to four, and Marlon Defillo and Kurt Boyelas will maintain their ranks in charge of the department's Field Operations Bureau and Investigations and Support Bureau respectively. Two civilian deputy superintendents will also be brought on board: Arlinda Pierce Westbrook will move from the city attorney's office to oversee the Public Integrity Bureau, and Stephanie Landry will run the department's Management Services Bureau.
The cuts will eliminate the positions of 11 majors seven will become police commanders in their respective districts, and four will revert to police captain. 67 percent of captains in the department will be given new assignments this afternoon.
Serpas said each of the four deputy chiefs have promised not to moonlight in any other roles in exchange for their jobs, and said he is working hard to institute an honesty policy in the bureau, mentioned in this week's Gambit cover interview whereby dishonest officers can be fired.
"We're going to fight crime to make New Orleans safe, and we're going to be responsible budget managers," said Serpas. "The two things go hand in hand."
City council members praised the move, and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said he appreciated Serpas' focus on reducing violent crime. The two have been spending so much time together collaborating, he added, "that our wives are going to start getting suspicious."