Mar 21, 2024 - News

City Council slows down NOPD's proposed move out of rat-infested headquarters

Photo illustration of New Orleans Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick with lines radiating from her.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios.

The New Orleans City Council delayed voting on a lease that would move the police department headquarters to a downtown highrise building.

Why it matters: Councilmember Oliver Thomas wants the city to review alternative locations with easier parking options.

The big picture: NOPD Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick says the current headquarters and evidence room are in "extreme disrepair," and rats are eating marijuana in evidence.

Driving the news: Council members are considering a lease agreement with 1615 Poydras Tower LLC, which is across the street from the Caesars Superdome.

  • NOPD wants to occupy the 17th and 18th floors of the so-called DXC Technology building for 10 years, according to the document.
  • Officials say the $7.67 million lease would be cheaper than fixing the current police HQ in Mid-City.
Photo shows the exterior of DXC Technology office tower.
The DXC Technology office tower is at 1615 Poydras Street across from the Caesars Superdome. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

The friction point: Thomas, who initially recommended that his fellow members vote Thursday on the lease, said officials need to "take a step back, posthaste, to review multiple sites."

  • The vote has been deferred to the April 18 council meeting, Thomas' office confirmed Wednesday.

Between the lines: The delay is bad news for NOPD's proposed timeline.

  • NOPD wants to move out of the current headquarters before the summer heat arrives, Gilbert Montaño, the city's chief administrative officer, told WWL, because the building has been plagued with HVAC problems.
  • The proposed lease for the DXC building starts May 1.

The intrigue: Jason Williams, the parish district attorney, was slated to tour the evidence room Wednesday to assess the rat situation. It wasn't immediately clear if that happened.

  • "We have no reason to believe the reported issues have heretofore impacted our prosecutions and convictions," he said in a statement last week to WDSU.
  • Williams and NOPD did not respond to multiple requests from Axios New Orleans to tour police headquarters and the evidence room.

Zoom in: The evidence room would not move to the office tower, Montaño told WWL. The city is looking at other locations, he said, but didn't give details.

  • It's unclear what would happen to NOPD's current HQ building, which the city owns.

State of play: NOPD's move is likely just the start of relocating city agencies.

  • "I foresee most of the criminal justice agencies will probably have to be temporarily housed," Montaño told City Council earlier this month, citing the "old, decrepit buildings."
  • The complex at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street houses NOPD, the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and municipal and traffic courts, according to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.

Go deeper: Scientists describe how stoned rats behave.

Photo shows a letter Councilmember Oliver Thomas wrote to Gilbert Montaño and NOPD Chief Anne Kirkpatrick asking for further review of moving NOPD headquarters.
Councilmember Oliver Thomas sent this letter March 12. Image: Courtesy of Thomas' office
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