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New Orleans police: 1st Black police superintendent has died
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Police Department’s first Black superintendent has died.
Warren Woodfork Sr. died Wednesday, the department said in a tweet.
He was 85, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
Woodfork was appointed in 1985 by the city’s first Black mayor, Dutch Morial, was kept on by the second, Sidney Barthelemy, and retired in 1991, when violent crime was surging and budgets were falling short.
“I thought he was a great Chief” who worked hard and was very concerned about what was happening in the city, WGNO-TV quoted Barthelemy.
Woodfork, born in 1936 in a New Orleans public housing complex, was a postal clerk when, on an impulse, he took the department’s entry test at a recruiting event in 1964, Time magazine reported in 2001.
“I never had a desire to be a policeman,” he told the magazine. But he got the job “and fell in love with it.”
He became the first commander of the controversial Felony Action Squad, which operated for 10 years beginning in 1972 and was criticized by civil rights leaders, the New Orleans newspaper noted.
A few years after becoming superintendent, he talked a postal worker who had shot three co-workers into surrendering.
During his career, officials called Woodfork an innovator, the newspaper said. And under Barthelemy, it noted, he got money to train 200 new officers and buy police radios and cars.
Woodfork told The Times-Picayune in November 1990, when he announced his retirement, that he wanted to spend more time with his family. “It’s time to make room for new leadership, and I’m ready to seek new endeavors,” he said.
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