New Orleans police officers patrol neighborhoods largely devoid of the people they have sworn to serve and protect. Many later collapse in tiny cabins on a cruise ship docked on the Mississippi River, their homes unlivable, their families elsewhere, their reputations in question, reports the New York Times. The 1,400-plus active city police officers serve in a department at a low point in its checkered history, at a time when rebuilding the police force is essential to rebuilding New Orleans. Referring to officers who have returned after missing duty when Katrina struck, Sgt. Bryan Lampard of the vice and narcotics unit asked, “What do you do with the guys that left and came back?” Do you trust that guy? Who turned around when things got hot, and ran?”
The department is temporarily based at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street, steps away from a selection of strip clubs. From an overstuffed couch in the opulent lobby, Lt. David Benelli, the head of the department’s sex crimes unit and president of the New Orleans Police Association, said that the desertion and looting by a minority of police officers have overshadowed the heroism of so many others.