New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today that he has suspended 8th District Police Commander Edwin Hosli, who had come under fire after revelations that a company he formed had profited by managing police reviews of traffic camera violations. In addition, the release on March 28 of an internal report that revealed widespread problems at the 8th district (download the report at this link) had brought further pressure on Hosli, as well as Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who is reportedly a close friend and ally of Hosli. Serpas was not in attendance for the announcement.
The revelations about Hosli and the 8th district had unleashed a floodgate of criticism in forums such as WBOK, the city's only Black-owned talk radio station. Many critics of police corruption see these charges as an indictment of not just the 8th District, but of Serpas' job as police chief, and by extension of Landrieu's choice of Serpas.
Mitch Landrieu campaigned on the promise of reform of the NOPD, and pledged a national search for a new police chief. When members of Landrieu's task force on the search for a new police chief resigned in protest, saying that they were not being meaningfully consulted on the search, many suspected that the national search was an illusion. The selection of Serpas, a childhood friend of Landrieu, seemed to confirm these suspicions.
Since his appointment, Serpas has worked overtime to assuage community concerns, making many public appearances and patiently answering questions at neighborhood forums and on WBOK's popular morning call-in show. However, these new revelations have brought back the initial public suspicion of Landrieu's choice.
The Mayor no doubt hopes that his quick suspension of Hosli will be enough to stem the tide of public anger. Will he prove correct?