Metro police Chief Ronal Serpas officially announced he will give up his post in Nashville for the role of police superintendent of the New Orleans.
The announcement came Thursday at an 11 a.m. news conference with Mayor Karl Dean at Belmont University. At the same time, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced his selection at a news conference of his own.
Serpas said he would remain on duty in Nashville during this critical time for the city to continue to serve on what he called the “best police department in America.”
“I will be here for the next several days to make sure this transition is smooth,” Serpas said. “My heart and soul is with Nashville during this flood.”
On his time in Nashville, the chief said, “This has been the greatest experience of my life.”
But heading to New Orleans, where Serpas spent 21 years on its police force, he said, “The opportunity to use a lifetime of friendships that I’ve developed in the community to advance my hometown and one of the grandest cities in America is something that we feel called to do.”
Deputy Chief Steve Anderson will serve as interim chief until Dean chooses a permanent replacement for Serpas — a task the mayor said had no “arbitrary deadline” and would proceed thoughtfully and deliberately.
“I see a lot of potential chiefs,” Dean said of the search for Serpas’ replacement, adding that he had a “deep bench” to choose from but that the next police chief of Nashville could come from outside of the department as well.
Serpas beat out Ronald Davis, police chief of East Palo Alto, Calif., who was the other finalist for the New Orleans job.
Serpas became Nashville’s chief of police in January 2004 and has overseen a drop in major crime over six consecutive years. Serpas became known for his statistical approach to fighting crime and an increase in community involvement with the police department.