New Orleans Police Chief Says He Needs to Hire and Fire Commanders at Will to Protect Reforms

Says the commanders are responsible for many reforms already implemented.



The civil service commission in New Orleans has punted on a decision to allow the police superintendent to hire and fire commanders at will—delaying the issue until next month, the New Orleans Advocate reports.

The commander position was created on a temporary basis in 2011 to replace district captains. Commanders report to deputy superintendents and are not promoted to their positions based on civil service rules. Michael Harrison, New Orleans' police superintendent, argues replacing captains with such commanders has made it possible for the department to implement reforms after a Department of Justice investigation found a systemic pattern and practice of constitutional violations.

Harrison said the request was the most important and critical one he has made in his tenure, saying the commanders he and his predecessor had appointed made "lasting reform and change" possible. ""The continued success of these reforms is likewise reliant upon these individuals," the police superintendent said.

The personnel administrator for the civil service commission, who is leading the study into the request, has taken a posture against it, calling it "unprecedented" and complaining "it would subject individuals to political pressures."

That's exactly right. The absurdity of the entire culture of the civil service protections system aside, the idea that police officers—government agents granted the authority to use violence to enforce the laws of a democratic government—falls apart under any kind of critical engagement. A combination of civil service rules, union contract provisions, and state and federal laws and precedents make it exceedingly difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. Worse, the first two of these elements are often significantly inoculated from the democratic process even as they were borne of it. Moves such as that New Orleans' police leadership are taking to implement and protect reform are crucial to reverse that trend. Democratic governments face political pressure all the time—it's what makes them democratic. Police officers, given their particular power over the lives of the people they are supposed to work for, should not be completely exempt from them.

NEXT: Scott Pruitt Emails Reveal He Consulted with Industry About Regulations

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wait, what? You mean in order to carry out the vision that got him hired, an executive needs to assemble a team that is on board with his priorities and operating style and hold them to account if they don't toe the line? That's crazy, and a little bit like Hitler School of Management if you ask some people. The right way to run a company or a department is to let the guys who ran it into the ground in the first place (thus requiring a change in leadership) undermine you at every turn to ensure the bureaucracy protects itself.

  2. You know who else likes to tell people "you're fired"?

    1. Meg Whitman?

    2. All cisheteropatriarchs to their Otherkin?

  3. This is why law enforcement should be privatized.

  4. This seems like such a local issue for Reason to cover.

    1. All politics is local.

  5. The absurdity of the entire culture of the civil service protections system aside, the idea that police officers?government agents granted the authority to use violence to enforce the laws of a democratic government?falls apart under any kind of critical engagement.

    Huh? I can't make sense of this sentence.

    1. Yeah, something got dropped there. But I agree with his premise, even though it sounded like he meant the opposite at first. Political pressure on police officers isn't bad, and is actually a necessary ingredient to avoid corruption and abuse. And frankly, the fact that the unions always fight so hard against it should make that obvious.

      1. The unions have carved out a nice little piece of the power structure for themselves, and fortified the hell out of it. In a lot of states it will take an amendment to their constitution to root the unions out.

    2. This wording is confusing. Try the quote "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Skipping the last sentence of this quote it seems the author is saying: Give police power (through democratic means) to profit/control/kill/selectively enforce laws/etc... will lead the police to desire more power, which leads to more power, which leads to the desire for more power, etc.... Corruption takes over and eventually democracy may loose control altogether.

  6. Police officers, given their particular power over the lives of the people they are supposed to work for, should not be completely exempt from them.

    Police officers... and all government union employees work for me when I have a say in their contract. Until them, I'm the hired help.

    1. Government employees work for the public. The public is everyone except you. For them to serve the public, every individual member of the public must serve them.

  7. Based on tidbits I have heard or read over the years, the New Orleans police department (in general) has been corrupt for decades. If someone told me the New Orleans police department has been corrupt for centuries I would respond by burping and scratching my ass.

    1. New Orleans used to have their own mafia family.

    2. If someone told me the New Orleans police department has been corrupt for centuries

      If we count man-hours....

  8. I agree that often times police unions and state laws give to much protection to cops. However before righting articles such as this you should do more research. Police unions in Louisiana have little real power as unions do in some states. There are no Union contract with the NOPD. The NOPD as a department, in regards to their upper management, is horribly corrupt. The internal politics there dominates, and always has, EVERY decision made. Which 9fficers there get a pass and which get hammered for offenses or often BS reasons or made largely based on internal reasons and not based on a hunt for the truth. If you want verification of that ask any officer who has left that department, such as myself. Because of that management corruption civil service rules are needed for fairness to the officers. I currently work someplace where the management is excellent. I am an athiest will no civil service employee. I have no desire for civil service here as it is not needed, unlike NOPD which has an over 100 year history of having craptastic management

    1. And that will NEVER change when the leaders of the department all bubble up automatically through that same corrupt system, and the person elected to run the department has no power to change that, or modify their behavior by threatening to fire them.

    2. Of course it's corrupt just like every other banana republic.

    3. I believe you.

  9. Pretty sure moonbeam listened to this as a child:
    "it ain't gonna rain no more lyrics"

    As a result, during the 'permanent drought caused by climate change' (moonbeam claim), all the extra money in that 'balanced budget' (where's commie kid when you need another lie?), got used up on pub-sec retirement funds and choo-choos, which at the very least buy a lot of voted with taxpayer money.
    So we get:
    "Bridge on Hwy. 1 in Big Sur cracked beyond repair by rains"

    1. Moonbeam's claim:
      "California Drought Crisis Proves Climate Change 'Is Not A Hoax,' Says Gov. Jerry Brown"
      ""With the weather that's happening in California, climate change is not a hoax," Brown said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "We're dealing with it, and it's damn serious." He said the water crisis "is a wake-up call" for not only California but also the rest of the country, which depends on the Golden State for a huge portion of its fruits, vegetables and nuts."

      AFAIK, he's yet to double-down on his stupidity by claiming the rain is caused by climate change, but it would not surprise me.

  10. "DENVER (AP) ? Republicans who benefited from rowdy town halls six years ago and harnessed a wave of discontent with Democrats to win seats in Congress are learning a hard lesson this week as they return home: The left is happy to return the favor."

    Yep, the R's who won the election aren't wasting time listening to whiny D's who have yet to figure out they LOST.
    The D's aren't real smart; witless Tony.

    1. Opens all sorts of opportunities for 'heart-warming moments'. And not only about whiny kids; how 'bout that old fart (and I am one) who somehow thinks his shopping cart should be a courtesy road-block on aisle 6?
      Move it over, grandpa! It's really not hard.

    2. Gotta love the people calling it for being fake. No shit? That was fake? I had totally bought it, but now I'm outraged.

  11. OK, someone pass her a blunt:

    "Grace Slick donates Chik-fil-A paycheck to LGBQT group"

    Agent: Grace, you ain't done shit recently to get any ink; how in hell am I supposed to make a living?
    Grace: Shit, I pay you for ideas. Got any?
    Agent: Yeah, remember that gig with Chik-fil-A? it's only gonna get you a mention in that shitty e-rag Chron, but hand over the check some gay group.
    Grace: ALL OF IT?!?
    Agent: Whatevs; You lie, I'll swear to it...

  12. Different jobs come with different perks.

    Work in restaurants and you eat for free.

    Work in theaters and you see movies for free.

    Work in airlines and you travel for free.

    Work in law enforcement and you break the law for free.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.