By Ramon Antonio Vargas | Staff Writer | January 22, 2021

Friday’s retirement of a New Orleans Police Department captain who served the force for nearly half a century created a domino effect and prompted the agency to announce numerous personnel changes at the command level.

Capt. James Scott is leaving after 47 years. He most recently led the Specialized Investigations Division, which is in charge of building major drug cases and compiling intelligence on criminal suspects, NOPD said in a statement.

Prior to that, Scott had overseen three of the city’s eight patrol districts, supervising officers in neighborhoods such as Mid-City, Treme, Lakeview, Gentilly and Algiers. He also commanded the Special Operations Division, colloquially referred to as the SWAT team.

“Capt. Scott … has a played a major role in this department,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said in Friday’s statement. Ferguson said the NOPD was counting on continued help from Scott, who will join the agency’s division of reserve officers.

Without elaborating, a police spokesperson said the SID’s responsibilities would be divided among other NOPD divisions. Meanwhile, several additional changes among NOPD brass were announced.

The Crime Laboratory and Central Evidence and Processing units will be split into two sections. Ferguson promoted Lt. Bruce Haney — the second in command at the NOPD training academy — to captain and tapped him to lead the crime lab. Capt. Simon Hargrove will oversee the CE&P section.

Capt. Frank Young, most recently the commander of the NOPD’s 5th District encompassing the 9th Ward and surrounding areas, will now head the Criminal Investigation Division. And Capt. Regina Williams will take command of the 5th District, moving over from the CID, which includes the homicide investigations section.

The shake-up at CID occurs as the department’s homicide investigators grieve the death of their colleague Detective Greg Hamilton, 64, last week.

Hamilton, an Army veteran, had worked for 26 years at NOPD. He spent 22 of his years at the agency as a detective.

He died at his home in Harvey on Jan. 15. The agency didn’t provide a cause of death.

Hamilton’s survivors include his wife, two children and six grandchildren.

“Detective Greg Hamilton … served this city admirably,” Ferguson said Friday while expressing condolences to Hamilton’s family. “He will be greatly missed.”

The NOPD confronts the rest of 2021 with a budget that is $16 million — or 8% — lighter than it was last year, when the coronavirus pandemic precipitated steep declines in city sales tax collections and other revenues. 2020 was also a much more violent year than had been typical in New Orleans.

The city’s 202 homicides last year were 36% higher than the 150 homicides it averaged each year from 2016 to 2019, and the 425 nonfatal shootings were 56% higher than the annual average of 273 during the same period, according to a Metropolitan Crime Commission analysis.