Warren Riley was sworn in yesterday as New Orleans Police Superintendent in a ceremony that bore few signs of the city’s ongoing struggles, says the New Orleans-Times Picayune. Mayor Ray Nagin announced last week that he was dropping Riley’s title of “acting chief.” The 23-year police veteran has been running the department since the departure of Eddie Compass on Sept. 27. Riley acknowledged some of the immediate challenges: more than 80 percent of his officers lost their homes, more than 200 face disciplinary action for leaving their posts amid the crisis, three district stations and police headquarters sustained major storm damage.
“Hurricane Katrina washed away so much, but she also gave us a fresh start,” Riley said. “We will rebuild this city better, stronger and, most importantly, safer.” Riley hinted that courtesy and community-style policing would be major components of a reform plan. “We’re a smaller city now and, as a result, we can spend more time getting to know our district officers,” he said. Since Katrina, officer strength has fallen from about 1,700 to about 1,440, and the evaporation of the city’s population and tax base has raised big questions about the future size of the force.