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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS-- Michael Harrison spent the last 23 years quietly rising through the ranks of the New Orleans Police Department.

He was not part of former Superintendent Ronal Serpas's inner circle. In that regard, he appears to have an advantage over many other potential candidates for the permanent police chief's position.

'One of the things that's noticeable, I think, about this particular pick, is that he was a commander. He wasn't a deputy chief,' said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 'He represents the future leadership of the department that we spent four years growing.'

In the 24 hours since Harrison was named interim chief, some have already suggested dropping the 'interim' from his title.

'He's very involved in community relations and he's part of the rank and file,' said New Orleans Police and Justice Board Chair Sandy Shilstone. 'So, he recognizes the challenges that officers have had during this time period.'

'I applaud the mayor's choice,' said New Orleans Councilman At-Large Jason Williams. 'I think it was the perfect choice when you look at the man who Michael Harrison is, and we've all got to get behind him now. I think it was choice of the character of the person and his educational background and law enforcement.'

Court ordered reforms are now underway at the NOPD. Councilwoman Susan Guidry said that favors a candidate who already understands the federal consent decree.

'With the consent decree that we have going now, it's forcing so many changes on the police department,' said Guidry. 'I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's in control. It makes it harder for a chief to come in and create his own program.'

Landrieu said Harrison has what it takes to lead the NOPD.

'I like him,' he said. 'I think he's been well received by the community, but I don't want to make it a final choice until I hear from the people of the community about whether they like him or whether they want something different in a chief.'

Harrison spent his first full day as chief at police headquarters meeting with his senior staff.

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