New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass abruptly announced his retirement yesterday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The stunning departure of the city’s top cop raised questions of whether Mayor Ray Nagin forced Compass from his job. Earlier this month, Compass said, “I want to be police chief here as long as I can and as long as Mayor Nagin will have me.” Neither Compass nor Nagin provided any explanation as to why the chief chose this moment, when New Orleans is enduring its greatest crisis, to depart. Nagin said, when asked, that he did not ask for Compass' resignation.
Compass' three-and-a-half year tenure as superintendent had its rocky moments before Katrina, notably as the city witnessed a resurgence in its infamously high murder rate. Deputy Superintendent Warren Riley was named interim chief. “Since I was a little boy, my whole life, I wanted to be the superintendent of police,” Compass said, appearing to fight back tears. “Over the next 30 to 45 days of a transition period, I will be retiring as superintendent of police,” he said. “I ask you to respect my privacy and my decision, and my right to be by myself.” The sudden retirement came after a private meeting between Compass, 47, and the mayor not long before the announcement. The announcement came after several comments Compass had made repeatedly about the alleged violence that had engulfed emergency shelters at the Superdome and convention center were countered by others to be hyperbolic and based on faulty intelligence.