Hurricane Katrina shut down crime investigations in New Orleans for weeks, in some cases months, says the Los Angeles Times. When they were able to start up again, law enforcement officers faced unprecedented challenges. Witnesses and suspects had moved to other cities. Evidence was damaged or lost after sitting in water for weeks. Crime scenes had been washed away or gutted. The number of police officers has dropped from 1,668 to 1,424.
A police official stressed that homicide investigations were by nature complex, even without waterlogged evidence, displaced witnesses and missing suspects. Relatives of pre-Katrina homicide victims said that given the recent citywide surge in slayings – almost 140 since the beginning of the year – it was even more important to them that their loved ones not become just another statistic.