In the days before Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans police force numbered 1,750. Afterwards, officials could account for about 1,200. No one knows whether the missing are dead, injured, or just could not face the horror of the work, Says the Washington Post. An estimated 70 percent of the force is homeless. Until Thursday, when some officers were allowed to take a five-day vacation, the force had been working nonstop for 11 days.
Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass III had been begging for relief for his officers, almost all of whom have been on duty 24 hours a day since Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29. “Not one of the 40 commanders has left his post,” he said. Compass has asked the federal government for a cruise ship or some sort of temporary housing for the force and their families, and has told everyone to get physical and psychological evaluations. The commander of the 6th District, Capt. Anthony Cannatella, said, “the New Orleans police did not run out and abandon the city.”