At least 200 New Orleans police officers quit force

Monday, September 5, 2005

At least 200 New Orleans law officers have left the force following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Some had notified their superiors, but others did not. A few officers simply threw their badges out the window and attempted to drive a squad car to northern Louisiana after the storm.

Some of the reasons given were because of lack of support from the local government in dealing with the crisis, others such as psychological problems with being in armed confrontation with people foraging for food and water in a desperate situation, where they were left alone but called looters and thugs by the authorities if they helped themselves, and losing their own families might have driven at least two officers to commit suicide.

Reports are that some officers resorted to using their own personal firearms because of the severe equipment shortage, even before the coastal region was devastated by the hurricane. The morale of the police force, which has dealt with the highest number of murders per capita in the United States, is not a new issue. This natural disaster may have exacerbated long-standing tensions in the force that were already present.