Two top civilian officials at the New Orleans Police Department are following former Superintendent Michael Harrison to Baltimore.

Officials announced Friday that Deputy Chief for Compliance Danny Murphy and Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Melancon will join the Baltimore Police Department to work under Harrison, who was confirmed on Monday as commissioner of that city’s troubled police force.

Their last day at the NOPD will be March 29. Their new positions must still be approved in Baltimore.

Murphy and Melancon were considered key players in the NOPD’s long-running effort to comply with a federal consent decree mandating reforms to the department. Harrison appears likely to task them with overseeing a similar reform pact in Baltimore.

Harrison, who announced his move in January, had previously declined to say whether he was wooing other NOPD officials to make the move with him. But he did note that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh promised to give him wide latitude in staffing his new department’s upper echelons.

The twin departures now will force the new New Orleans superintendent, Shaun Ferguson, to hire replacements.

“The progress NOPD has made since the implementation of the federal consent decree would not have been possible without Eric Melancon and Danny Murphy,” Ferguson said in a statement. “While we certainly don’t want them to leave, we wish them well and thank them for all they have done."

Melancon joined the department in 2017 after serving as an “innovation manager” in City Hall under former Mayor Mitch Landrieu. He had a background in consulting and once worked as a campaign operative for former Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, according to a social media profile.

One of Melancon's key initiatives was to improve the department’s sluggish hiring process. Recruitment has improved over the last couple of years, but the department remains hundreds of officers short of its goal.

Meanwhile, Murphy, 32, is among the youngest people in department history to serve as a deputy chief.

Harrison elevated him from a compliance manager to that position in 2016 after the retirement of former Deputy Chief Tim Averill. At the time, federal consent decree monitors noted that they had worked with Murphy for years and held him in high regard.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan has also expressed her confidence in Murphy at public court hearings. Police forces and conferences across the country have flown him in to discuss his work in helping the NOPD move toward compliance with the consent decree. 

Murphy took an unconventional path to becoming a police leader courted by other departments. A 2005 valedictorian of Jesuit High School, where he studied Latin and Spanish and played guitar in a popular local alt-rock band, he went on to earn a bachelor's degree at Georgetown University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans while taking jobs at the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Recovery School District.

Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.


Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.