Some of the most gripping dramas in the first hours after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans were the water-borne rescues of people trapped in the inundated Lower 9th Ward, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Several Harbor Police were told to leave their posts and evacuate. The shutdown of the 60-officer Harbor Police during a peak period of the crisis is at the center of competing investigations.
Harbor Police Chief Robert Hecker is under internal review because he defied orders to shut down his squad. The supervisor who gave the order, Port of New Orleans Director of Safety and Security Cynthia Swain, is under investigation by the state attorney general’s office for possible malfeasance. “It’s mind-boggling. You don’t send away police officers in a time of crisis,” said Hecker’s attorney, Frank DeSalvo. “We had officers from the Harbor Police leaving town as officers from out-of-town agencies were coming in to help. These people take an oath of office to protect and serve.”