At least 200 New Orleans police officers have walked away from their jobs in the chaos after Hurricane Katrina and two have committed suicide, reports the New York Times. Some officers told superiors they were leaving. Others worked for a while and then stopped showing up. Others never made it in after the storm. The absences come during a period of extraordinary stress for the police department. For nearly a week, many of its 1,500 members have had to work around the clock, trying to cope with flooding, an overwhelming crush of refugees, looters, and occasional snipers.
P. Edwin Compass III, superintendent of police, said most of his officers were staying at their posts. Hhe said it was understandable that many were frustrated and that morale was “not very good.” He told the Times: “If I put you out on the street and made you get into gun battles all day with no place to urinate and no place to defecate, I don’t think you would be too happy either. Our vehicles can’t get any gas. The water in the street is contaminated. My officers are walking around in wet shoes.” W. J. Riley, assistant superintendent of police, said about 1,200 officers were on duty yesterday.