Trying to lift spirits, the New Orleans Police Department is giving every officer a five-day vacation over the next two weeks as the military steps in to replace them, reports the New York Times. Those who want to go to Las Vegas are being given plane tickets and hotel rooms for them and their families. Their breaks begin with physical examinations in Baton Rouge, 75 miles north of New Orleans, inoculations against water-borne disease, and other necessary medical treatment. The officers also will receive psychological counseling. Many officers said that they are grateful for the breather but that they had no interest in going to Las Vegas. “There’s nothing in Las Vegas for me,” said Officer Darryl Scheuermann, 41, a SWAT team member. “I’m going to see my family. I miss my wife and my dogs.” In one week, some officers have seen more violence than in a lifetime. Officer Brian French ducked sniper bullets while ferrying 50 women and children to a shelter in a commandeered rental truck.
Reacting to criticism of his department’s performance, Police superintendent P. Edwin Compass III said police had hustled to position boats and cars before the hurricane and afterward directed rescues and charged after looters. “We had no food,” he said. “We had no water. We ran out of ammunition. We had no vehicles. We were fighting in waist-deep water.” Compass has been accused of poorly planning for the hurricane, but he and other officials said they were overwhelmed by a crisis that no municipality could handle. The disaster was compounded, they said, when federal officials ignored their cries for help for several days.