The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans was
created in 1896 by Act 70 of the Louisiana Legislature. By 1900, Act 36 of
the Legislature defined the Port’s powers, which included policing
Over the next two decades, the Port’s police force was
divided into several units under various departments at the Port. At one
time, the Port paid the New Orleans Police Department an annual sum of
$12,500 to police the docks. In 1919, these various units were placed under
the Harbor Police Department, a division of the Docks Department.
Legislative Act 101 of 1920 granted full policing powers to the Harbor
Police, which the Port had organized, commissioned and placed under bond as
its official police agency.
The employment of personnel of the Harbor Police was
handled through the Port’s Personnel Department with requisites of age,
height, weight, medical and educational standards. In 1943 the State Merit
System of Civil Service became operative, and the Board of Commissioners
immediately placed the members of the Harbor Police under Civil Service.
In 1956, the department added the patrol and rescue
boats. The vessels remain in service today for rescue missions, enforcement
of Louisiana’s fishing and shrimping laws, as well as homeland security
patrols. Officers assigned to the patrol boats participate in safety and
rescue drills with federal and state enforcement agencies in order to
prepare for any incident which may occur in the area.
In 1970 the department became part of the Louisiana State
Police Computer System. This system links the department to other states for
motor vehicle information and is also linked to the FBI’s National Crime
Information Center computer network. The system allows instantaneous access
to warrants, criminal history and law enforcement information on a national
and international level.
In 1974 the Harbor Police Academy was created and granted
Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T) accreditation as a certified
basic training academy for law enforcement officers. The Harbor Police
Academy is one of 22 P.O.S.T. certified academies in the State of Louisiana.
In addition to Harbor Police recruits, the academy trains recruits for the
Orleans Levee Board, Crescent City Connection, St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office,
other Louisiana Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments as well as officers
from universities and colleges in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
The department is now comprised of 62 commissioned
officers. Until 1977, the officers patrolled their beats by walking. Since
then, the department has become mobilized as officers now patrol their
assigned areas in police vehicles, covered scooters, bicycles and patrol
boats. Harbor Police officers receive up to date anti-terrorism training and
are tasked with boarding all ocean going vessels in port to ensure safety
along the Port of New Orleans river front. Homeland Security is a major part
of the mission of the Harbor Police.
The department also incorporated several specialized
divisions to ensure safety throughout the Port of New Orleans. The Criminal
Investigations Division conducts follow up investigations relating to
various crimes in the Port area. The Bicycle Division patrols areas of the
Port which are not easily accessible to vehicular traffic. The Cruise
Terminal Division is charged with ensuring safety to all persons in and
around the cruise terminals, verifying security perimeters as well as
providing law enforcement services at the terminals when cruise ships are in
port. The Internal Affairs Division conducts investigations of allegations
of officer misconduct. The Patrol Boat Division provides marine patrols of
the Port’s waterways. The Homeland Security Division continually updates
MTSA security measures for the entire Port and works with numerous federal
and state enforcement agencies in order to provide efficient homeland
security in port areas.
The Harbor Police Department works closely with the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard and local law enforcement
agencies. The Harbor Police Department is a member of numerous law
enforcement committees and work groups. These include the F.B.I. Joint
Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), the U. S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory
Council (ATAC), the U. S. Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee (AMS)
and the Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
Workgroup. The Department is also an active member of the American
Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
The necessity for the Port of New Orleans to maintain its
own police department is greater now than ever. The current threats against
our country have placed the Port of New Orleans on a higher alert. The
Harbor Police Department is charged with ensuring security and safety for
the welfare of life, liberty and property. The Port of New Orleans owns or
controls 22 miles of wharves and terminals spread along the Mississippi
River, the Industrial Canal and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The
Port’s facilities, valued at over $700 million, include 22 million square
feet of cargo-handling area and over 7.5 million square feet of covered
storage. In the course of a year, more than 30 million tons of bulk and
general cargo pass through the Port of New Orleans. Approximately 5,000
foreign flagged vessels navigate to and from various docks in the Port of
New Orleans in the course of a year. Disruption of this trade would have a
severe economic impact on our nation. The Port’s Harbor Police are charged
with ensuring the free flow of this commerce.
The Harbor Police Department Headquarters has been
located at various sites along the Mississippi River. In the past, the HPD
headquarters building has been located at the present site of the World
Trade Center and the Aquarium of the Americas. Presently, the headquarters
building is located at No. 1 Third Street in uptown New Orleans.
In 1947 the Harbor Police Department named its first
Chief of Police. The following is a historical list of all those that served
the department and the Port as Chief of its police force:
L. H. Deutschmann, appointed June 1, 1947, retired June
Edwin G. Pritchard, Jr., appointed June 12, 1973,
retired July 1, 1977.
Jimmy L. Jones, appointed September 1, 1977, resigned
December 12, 1978.
Joseph S. Cannatella, Jr., appointed December 11, 1978,
resigned October 26, 1985.
Archie T. Ben, appointed October 26, 1985, re-assigned
to an executive position in 1994 and retired on January 6, 1996.
Major Malcolm McGee, detailed as interim commander,
October 1994 to October 30, 1995.
Robert S. Hecker, a 28 year veteran with the New
Orleans Police Department, appointed October 30, 1995 to present.