Friday, May 07, 2010

Why New Orleans hired Police Chief Ronal Serpas away from Nashville

Keep up with the comments boards of the local news media and you will see "good-riddance" slams against Ronal Serpas, who has accepted New Orleans' offer (in spite of a salary cut) to become their next Chief of Police, from trolls who presume some understanding of the seemingly halcyon way things were before him. I don't put too much stock in good old boy trolls from Nashville's old school given the accolades that seem to be making Chief Serpas a high demand commodity. I prefer to see them as sour grapes losers of past administration changes, still upset that they were forced to transition in their employment history. In fact, I've coined a term to describe the attitudes of these attack trolls: "Not in My Employment History" or "NIMEH."

The NIMEH faction of Courthouse culture would have us go back to their good old days of the past pecking order, which weren't that good for many Nashvillians before Serpas' hire. Regardless of how inconvenienced you felt at one time or another about being detained from butterflying to your next social function at a Serpas traffic stop for a minor infraction, the man's track record speaks for itself. But if you were ignoring the record like the NIMEH trolls, here's a sampling of what some influential people--to whom a New Orleans task force listened--believe about the Chief:
“We went to the citizens of New Orleans and asked them what they were looking for in the next police chief. The community said very loudly throughout this process that they are looking for a proven leader with a history of reducing crime; someone who understands and practices true community policing; and someone who can facilitate a partnership between the NOPD and every neighborhood in this city. The mayor is correct in his assessment that Ronal Serpas indeed embodies these characteristics,” said Nolan Rollins, President & CEO, Urban League of Greater New Orleans and Co-Chair of the NOPD Task Force ....

“There is an inherent and justifiable mistrust of the police department within the Black community. Chief Serpas acknowledged that and worked to improve the relationship by being accessible to the community and amenable to suggestions as how to achieve it,” said Rev. Sonnye Dixon, pastor of Hobson United Methodist Church and Past President of NAACP-Nashville Branch. “He made some tough decisions and accepted critiques of them from the Black community without being vindictive when we disagree with him. One area of concern that he dealt with when he came to Nashville was the disparity of promotions among minorities and women. He has had a positive impact, increasing the number of minorities in leadership positions. Overall, I believe Nashville is a better city because of his leadership, and I know he will be an outstanding chief for the City of New Orleans” ....

Mayor of Nashville Karl Dean agreed, “Chief Serpas has been a great leader, and a great advocate for public safety in our city and our state. He has moved our Police Department forward in amazing ways in the six years he’s been here. Overall major crime has gone down every single year. Our city is safer today than it was when he got here and safer than its been in many years.”
I can appreciate that some police administrators might feel put out that they had to stoop themselves to write drivers some tickets, but I'm still looking for profound failure or shortcoming during Chief Serpas' tenure. The glowing assessments that moved Ronal Serpas out of Nashville back to his hometown are consistent with the excellent police enforcement we benefit from in Salemtown, and I am worried now that quality community policing here may degrade.

Former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell told current New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, "If you have a chance to get Serpas you ought to get him. He is one of the best in the country." If reports are true and he is one of the best this country offers, we should ask if Mayor Dean did enough to try and keep him.

1 comment:

  1. He is a politician and an opportunist. He skewed crime stats to make himself look like a hero. He deserted Nashville just days after the worst natural disaster in recent history.

    I could go on for days....