Data News Staff Edited Report
Last week Mayor LaToya Cantrell made history by announcing the appointment of Captain Michelle Woodfork as the Interim Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). Woodfork will be the first woman to ever lead this department, effective Thursday, Dec. 22nd.
“Protecting this community remains my top priority,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “I heard from our residents during public meetings and met with over a dozen leaders within the department. It became crystal clear that there were a number of credible individuals capable of moving the NOPD forward. The foundation has been laid, and I believe appointing Captain Woodfork as Interim Superintendent of the NOPD is the best decision to ensure we maintain the strides and progress we’ve accomplished thus far. Captain Woodfork is a legacy within the NOPD and is deeply rooted within the community. She grew up understanding the importance of law and order and rose through the ranks with grit, tenacity, endurance, strong determination, and steadfast focus. I look forward to working with NOPD’s new leadership under the direction of Captain Woodfork.”
Captain Woodfork is a native New Orleanian and life-long resident of New Orleans East. She has a long family history of law enforcement careers, including her father, who joined the force in 1968 as a cadet, and her uncle Warren G. Woodfork Sr., who was appointed as the first African American Superintendent of the NOPD. Woodfork is a graduate of St. Mary’s Academy High School. She received both a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science and a Master of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement from Southern University at New Orleans. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., where she has dedicated 28 years of service.
Captain Woodfork is a 32-year veteran of the department, joining the NOPD on Jan. 27, 1991. Since then, she has been assigned to five of the NOPD’s eight districts at the rank of Patrol Officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant. She served 12 years as a Detective and later as a Sergeant in the Department’s Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit. In 2012, Woodfork was selected by former Superintendent Ronal Serpas to launch the Alternative Police Response Unit, where she served as Commander. In 2016, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, initially assigned to the 7th District before moving to the 2nd District under the supervision of then Commander Shaun Ferguson. She was then assigned as a Lieutenant in the 1st District before being promoted to the rank of Captain in Nov. of 2021. Woodfork currently serves as the Captain of the NOPD Management Services Bureau.
“Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by excellent policing and law enforcement as I watched both my father and uncle protect and serve the people of our city as NOPD officers,” said Captain Michelle Woodfork. “The seed to serve and protect my community was planted, and today, I am the living representation of their legacy. Throughout my 32 years on the force, I have served as a Patrol Officer, Administrative Sergeant, Lieutenant, and now Captain in many neighborhoods throughout this city. I love this job. It is me. I am laser-focused on leading this department by working with community members, leaders, and the men and women of the NOPD with the goal of protecting and serving the citizens and visitors of New Orleans.”
Throughout her career, Captain Woodfork has completed several specialized trainings and received many awards and commendations. Most notably, she received the Purple Heart Letter Award in 2017 after being struck by a drunk driver who plowed his vehicle into a crowd of 30 Endymion parade goers while she was on parade duty.
Captain Woodfork is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Black Organization of Police. As a parent of a teenage son and lifelong resident of the City of New Orleans, Woodfork uniquely understands the challenges that the department and the city face as well as the success that can be achieved together.