U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says that that full restoration of the troubled New Orleans Police Department probably will require a long-term federal commitment of additional personnel and an undetermined amount of money. I have concerns generally about the strength of the police department,” Gonzales told USA Today after briefings with federal and local law enforcement officials. “They need help.” Dozens of officers are under investigation for alleged desertion or looting in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Three others are accused of abuse in a federal civil rights inquiry into brutality allegations.
Acting police Superintendent Warren Riley asked Gonzales to help find homes for about 80 percent of the force’s 1,700 officers. Temporary housing for hundreds of officers aboard cruise ships at the Port of New Orleans is set to end in March. Riley said there was no alternative housing plan, which is necessary to keep officers on the job. Gonzales traveled to New Orleans here to announce the formation of a federal investigative unit to deal with hurricane relief fraud. He said re-establishing the police department was an essential part of what promises to be a protracted rebuilding effort. “We can’t be successful in reconstructing the city without restoring law and order,” Gonzales told USA Today. Gonzales did not estimate how many federal officers would be needed or for how long.