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Cutting the NOPD some slack

The other day, Kevin and I lambasted a plan to give New Orleans police officers free vacations to Las Vegas in the wake (literally) of Hurricane Katrina. We were both royally steamed at this plan.

FEMA apparently agreed with us, because when Mayor Ganin asked them to pick up the tab, they declined.

Our colleague, Paul, who has the unenviable "benefit" of actually living in New Orleans, disagreed with us, and outlined just why he did so.

In light of that, I've reconsidered a bit. I think I can go along with the trips, with a few caveats:

1) FEMA does NOT pick up the tab. They've got enough on their plate already, and the reports of their doings so far have ranged from OK to pathetic. (For one FEMA screwup that's almost laughable, see here.) Asking them to do any more just doesn't make sense.

2) Any police officer that deserted their post is fired for cause. They may also be considered to have forfeited their pension and other benefits.

3) Any police officer caught looting (especially those three useless swine captured on film in that Wal-Mart casually filling shopping carts with shoes and the like) are fired for cause and brought up on criminal charges. In the end, maybe some looters might be "pardoned" for their actions, but we HAVE to hold the police to a higher standard. They are given tremendous powers and authority, and as such any violations of that must be punished, and punished severely.

But the other cops, the ones who truly carried out their duties in the face of the overwhelming onslaught of the disaster... yeah, they probably do need, and have earned, the vacation. But I dunno about sending them off 750 at a time. (The initial plan was to give the trips to 1500 police and other workers, in two shifts.)

The National Guard is quite clear about their duties: they are to assist the police, supplement them, not replace them. The CO of the Guard has said that as long as there is a single NOPD officer there, that officer is in charge and they will help him -- but they will NOT take the place of the police. And despite the General's words, it takes a bit more than "a single police officer."

As battered, gutted, inept, and corrupt as the NOPD may be, it still has the bare bones of a structure -- and that structure is desperately needed now. And sending half of the remaining force away at a time would deprive the struggle to rescue and control the city.


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Comments (16)

I'll give this much of a br... (Below threshold)
Marc:

I'll give this much of a break:

2-300 at one time and NOT in Las Vegas. No further than Houston. In fact I'd keep them in State, send them to Baton Rouge. they can get away from the carnage in NO for a few days and help at the rufuge centers at the same time.

What an absolute DISGRACE t... (Below threshold)
Omni:

What an absolute DISGRACE to have police officers not only looting, but being arrogant enough to do so while news cameras were pointed at them!! My vote would be for mandatory jail time for them... in general population.

I think we've thought we fi... (Below threshold)
epador:

I think we've thought we figured out that Las Vegas is the only place to get a huge bank of hotel rooms on short notice. Has anyone looked to see if that is indeed true? The advantage there is major airport, lots of flights, and lots of hotel rooms. No need for ground transport arrangements from airport. ANd they are used to major influxes. I wonder if Vegas took any of the displaced NOLA folks.

Echoing epador, they're usi... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Echoing epador, they're using Las Vegas AND Atlanta because of the availability of hotel room. Go try to find a room in Houston right now.

This is still a bad and rid... (Below threshold)
Mike:

This is still a bad and ridiculous idea.

I heard this morning that the mayor was looking for donations of hotel rooms and flights from Vegas and the airline companies. That would seem to make better sense than having this paid for with tax money.

The problem you have is who gets to decide who is eligible for this paid vacation? The government in NO and LA is notoriously corrupt and obviously inept based on the planning for this disaster. The work their is hardly done and they're talking about free vacations.

And what of the National Guard and volunteers who are also seeing and dealing with this carnage, why wouldn't they get this special deal? No doubt, those exposed will need some time off, but having free vacations is not the way to do it.

Hmmm.Yeah cause Ch... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

Yeah cause Chicago doesn't have a single hotel in it anywhere. Or San Diego. Or San Fransisco. Or Oakland. Or Boise. Or Des Moines. Or New York. Or Buffalo. Or Tampa. Or Denver.

etc etc etc.

We aren't talking about 10,000 people here folks. We're talking about, at most, 1,500 people. That's not even a *small* convention.

Hmmmm.Anybody else... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Anybody else think this is just a scam for Mayor Nagin and crew to get a free ride in Las Vegas on the federal dime? Even if the City of New Orleans "paid" for this, you know they'll shuffle some federal relief/rebuilding money to cover it.

This is a scam, nothing more.

OMFG. Free vacations? Yes, ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

OMFG. Free vacations? Yes, they went through hell, but this is just an unbelieveably stupid, callous and thoughtless thing to do. Thousands without homes, a city on the verge of death and where is there Police? Shooting craps!?

The NOPD has long been a police deptartment of corrupt losers, had their challenge and failed, and of course the proposed solution from the Dem Gov is to give them a reward and vacation? Well, the Left always seems to love their losers. And, of course, they want someone else to pay for it.

Here's a hint, check the crime rate of NO before the looting and after...it is about the same.

What other city or state gave their employees free vacations just days after a catatrophy? Gee, Lousisana (and I grew up there, Avoyelles Parish) what a way to portray your state in an even worse light than before. When the going gets tough they get the hell out of town. If they had even come close to rising to the occasion, but they didn't. They failed. Miserably. And now they want something for free. As usual.

This is just sad and pathetic.

Gee, does Las Vegas need he... (Below threshold)
Ken:

Gee, does Las Vegas need help in revitalization?

Give the good, honest cops and others, some time off. Do NOT send them to Las Vegas. How misguided is it to send people that are emotionally and physically, perhaps financially, drained to GAMBLE.

This so OBVIOUSLY stupid. Give them the time off; given the a few bucks; let THEM go where they want to go.

There are plenty of open ho... (Below threshold)
steven:

There are plenty of open hotel rooms in Detroit. Not as much fun as Vegas, but they are supposed to be getting rest, right?

The good police of New Orle... (Below threshold)
frankr:

The good police of New Orleans may need grief counseling, and the help of fellow officers, some time off to make sure their loved ones are safe and evacuated, and maybe someone to help their families while they protect and serve. As a token of their appreciation, I do believe that AFTER New Orleans is back to normal, the good people of the city may want to show their appreciation. How about free dinners (great food in the Big Easy) or something like that? Just a thought on what these folks might really appreciate.

I have substantially mixed ... (Below threshold)

I have substantially mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand, I definitely see the need for some "de-stress" activity for the ones who were true knights in blue, because of the service they did provide, even when 2/3 of their comrades either bolted or went "off duty" long enough to loot a Wal-Mart or two. The ones who were intimately involved with the effort truly do deserve, and probably will need, some time away.

On the other hand, an all-expense trip to Vegas isn't exactly an appropriate salve to apply to the heartbreak of losing one's home and/or family. Furthermore, to offer this trip to all the NOPD's employees and officers severely cheapens the sacrifices made by those who stayed and did their job. This ain't "Tee-Ball," folks. Don't give everyone on the team a trophy. Reserve the rewards for those who at the very least did their job, and those who went truly above and beyond the call of duty.

Another aside: is this offer being made to all personnel involved? What about NOFD or EMS workers? Have they been left out in the cold? They have arguably a much more emotionally traumatic job than do the officers of NOPD.

Rom what I understand, as <... (Below threshold)
rayabacus:

Rom what I understand, as few as there are left, you could afford to send them anywhere. Initially, I was aghast at the proposition. When logic kicked in, I didn't think it was such a bad idea, just bad timing.

However, there needs to be an accounting of how many there are. Those that "punked out" should be shit canned, those that remained and stood by their oaths, should be rewarded.

I think you could safely say that this is an opportunity to overhaul a corrupt PD.

Let me set the record strai... (Below threshold)
anonymous:

Let me set the record straight, as a member of nopd, that did not leave or loot.
we were told that we would be granted five dayys R&R to see to the needs of our families, we were also told that the city would fly us to the families and back........this would be done in groups not larger than 100 or so, this way we would maintain a police presence.
during this meeting we were told that if the officers that had no family they could take the 5-days in Vegas.....whoop de doo, a $75 junk flight to vegas.
we were also told we would be brought to baton rouge for a full physical and debriefing, receive $200.00 from FEMA then flown out.
when the time came, no $200.00, no flights....anywhere, some officers were offered a bus ride to atlanta(one-way) with the evacuee's.
also know this, the hurricane hit almost one month ago, and we (the nopd) have not received any overtime pay yet...they say it's coming.
another point, as far as the EMS and NOFD, having a harder job or more stressful job. most(not all) emt's fled the city only to return two-three days later. while the nofd looked at the houses on fire and shrugged, because the city could not provide water for them.
on to the officers that left and looted, as of now they haven't been arrested, charged, or fired.... civil service rules prevent them from being fired until a hearing can be had, presenting the evidence. this is a good thing, so these people cannot get their jobs back by claiming they were fired unjustly.
know this, leaving was never an option for me, I took an oath and stood by the city that raised me.
I CAN NOT blaim any officer that left, they did what they needed to do, but I DO NOT consider them police, they demostrated they do not have the testicular fortitude to hang in there.
there is alot of miss-information out there about the aftermath. talk to the people that were there, NO ONE ELSE has any room to say anything.
I have no desire to go vegas, never did. I spent my five days R&R in Baton Rouge.where if needed I could return to the good fight. I would also like to note that for the three days before my R&R and most of my R&R (rest and relaxation?) I had a 105 degree fever and full pnuemonia from falling into the toxic sludge water. some break I got. now I've been back for six days, still have a touch of bronchitis, and won't be off again for another five days.
I am tired, of working, and of the city out right lying to me.
will I quit after this is all OVER?
probably not, this is my town.
will I evacuate for the next hurricane?
Hell no,I will stay until there is nothing and no one left.
thank you for listening.

Thank you for saying that, ... (Below threshold)
jb:

Thank you for saying that, NOPD officer. I have wanted to say it over and over...all of these people post so much crap without ever having actually spoken to anyone who is there...anyone who is on the force. I have friends on the force, and I have heard the same words from them. They never would have gone to Vegas...all they wanted to to was to go to Baton Rouge to be with their families, if they were to get any break from NO. They still haven't gotten paid overtime. They still have only 2 pairs of pants to wear (if even that many).
Keep up the fight, NOPD. Bring the city back to us. We're rooting for you.

It's been awhile since this... (Below threshold)
NOEMS:

It's been awhile since this post, but I couldn't let this slide.

To the NOPD officer that claims EMS "fled" the city...the last I checked, Algiers was still a part of New Orleans. We can thank NOPD's 3rd district for being the reason we ended up on the west bank at all - ON FOOT ACROSS THE BRIDGE - since their entire contingent left us at the Hampton at midnight, MANY of which in did so in SEWELL CADILLACS. I don't think I need to remind you where a large group of those officers and Cadillacs ended up. Suffice it to say that it was NOT anywhere near New Orleans.

New Orleans EMS did at no time leave the city during or in the aftermath of Katrina. The same truth applies to our close friends the NOFD. Thanks for letting ME set the record straight.




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