Don't Move Backwards on Policing Reform

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UPDATE: Thank you to all who signed the petition, called and emailed Mayor  LaToya Cantrell’s office to register your opposition for appointing Warren Riley as Director of Homeland Security. Exercising community power WORKED and Mayor Cantrell said today in her press conference that she is “pressing pause” on appointing Warren Riley to this position, citing “community uptick.” But we have to keep the pressure on as Cantrell says she will make a decision soon. Please continue sharing the petition, which has been updated with this new information, and thank her to ensure she doesn’t go backwards on policing reforms in our city. You can email Cantrell to thank her at or call her office at (504) 658-4900.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has said she is considering the appointment of Warren Riley as Director of Homeland Security in New Orleans. She is quoted as saying that she “thinks it would be a great choice.” Warren Riley was the Deputy Chief of Operations for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) before being appointed Police Chief  by Mayor Ray Nagin for 4 ½ years following Hurricane Katrina. His record includes the cover-up of officer involved shootings in the Danziger Bridge and Henry Glover incidents resulting in the deaths and serious injuries to innocent people and continuing a legacy of police corruption, cover-ups and violence against the community. His appointment to this high-level position overseeing disaster planning and response as well as the Real Time Crime Monitoring Center and accompanying surveillance network would be a major step backwards for the people of New Orleans and is an insult to all who have fought for reforms of the NOPD and an end to corruption and cover-ups by our City officials.


Sign to send the below [UPDATED] email to Mayor LaToya Cantrell:

I am writing to thank you for not appointing Warren Riley as the Director of Homeland Security in New Orleans today as I had grave concerns about and strongly opposed this appointment. I also want to thank you for being “big on community” and “big on listening to your people.” We feel heard and hope that you will continue to hear us in the coming days.

That’s also why I’m writing. I understand that you are only “pressing pause” on his appointment at this time and want to continue to urge you to find another candidate for this position.

As you know, Warren Riley was second in command as the Chief of Operations during the Danziger Bridge and Henry Glover shootings. He was the Chief of Police during the NOPD cover-ups and conspiracy that went on for years after Katrina and eventually resulted in multiple convictions of NOPD officers and supervisors – the reports of which he admitted to never reading during the entire four and ½  years of his term. In his report to Congressional investigations, he failed to disclose that the deaths and devastating injuries caused by NOPD on the Danziger Bridge even happened at all. It took years for the federal government to expose the truth of what happened here under his watch. According to testimony in federal court, he also gave orders to the NOPD to “shoot looters” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  

Warren Riley’s 4 ½ years of failed leadership of the NOPD led to the most comprehensive federal court consent decree of a police department in U.S. history.  The NOPD under his leadership was notorious as one of the worst police departments in the nation.  Under his tenure, the NOPD focused on archaic and ineffective “stop and frisk” policing strategies and employed “jump out” squads, which widely practiced racial profiling, used excessive force without any accountability or oversight, engaged in mass arrests and detentions of many thousands of people on minor and often false charges, and was abusive and hostile to the community it was supposed to be serving, all of which resulted in profound distrust and conflict between the community and the police department. The 115 page U.S. Department of Justice March, 2011 investigative report exposed and documented NOPD as one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional police departments in the country and is a scathing indictment of Riley’s failed leadership, management and supervision as Chief. In addition to unjustified officer involved shootings, use of excessive force, illegal searches, seizures and arrests, the department, under Riley’s leadership, profiled and targeted African Americans and immigrant and undocumented communities, abused and mistreated transgender women and other LGBTQ communities of color, and caused serious injuries with a vicious K-9 unit that frequently attacked even their handlers, in addition to other violations of constitutional and civil rights.   Sexual assaults and violence against women were ignored while over a thousand rape kits went untested for years during Riley’s administration.

Riley was also hostile to the important cultural traditions of the City and tried to shut down secondlines which were promoting peace and restoration during a critical time for our City post Katrina, by raising the secondline permit fees to over $8,000. These outrageous fees prompted a successful lawsuit by the ACLU against the City for constitutional violations.

Riley has a proven track record in New Orleans which shows that he is a poor and unacceptable choice for leadership in our community. Riley’s failed leadership, hostile attitudes, poor management, and lack of transparency and accountability make him profoundly unqualified for this important position. 

New Orleans needs a truth teller for this position and someone whose judgment and assessments on which people can rely, particularly as the Director of Homeland Security would also oversee the Real Time Crime Monitoring Center and accompanying surveillance network. I am deeply concerned that Warren Riley is even being considered for this position, one that is also critical during times of disaster.

We have come too far and worked too hard in rebuilding our community to return to the old days of coverup, willful blindness, corruption and failure.   You ran as a candidate for Mayor on a platform of listening to the community, as you mentioned again today at your press conference. Please continue to do so and find another candidate for this position.

Appointing Warren Riley would be a terrible mistake and a major step backwards for our City, our communities and your new administration.  Thank you again and please continue to consider other options for this important position.


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