"We have people who died while the National Guard sat and played cards. I understand why we are not winning the war in Iraq if this is what we have." - New Orleans Deputy Police Commander W. S. Riley
Many police left New Orleans. Many police officers stayed, but they were not enough.
Of the 1,500 police officers on the rolls in the city of New Orleans, according to early reports, only 800 were around during the disaster during the first part of the week. We may find that there were more on duty in the aftermath of Katrina or maybe find that there were less. The total would swell to about 1,200 on duty on Saturday.
You'll hear claims that many were called to duty with the Louisiana Army National Guard. I can tell you that many Chicago police are Guardsmen and Reservists. They get great benefits from their police departments for serving in the military.
Surely some were serving overseas; however, I don't think that 700 of them were part of the 4,000 called up for Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are reports that 200 quit outright and turned in their badges.
There are reports that 2 committed suicide.
There are reports that some joined in the looting.
Others, who had family that stayed, decided to stay with loved ones. I'd point out that the government gave the evacuation notice and many government families didn't evacuate.
And history might forgive Deputy Commander Riley his statements. But not me. The National Guard primarily is responsible for disaster relief and not police work - not the work of a dissolved and ineffective police force.
Whatever happens in the aftermath and evaluation of this disaster, we need to remember the police officers who remained on duty in the most hellish conditions and did their jobs - to serve and protect.
Sure, some were corrupt, some were cowards, and some thieves.
But there were some who stayed in the streets and some who died defending their city in it's darkest hour.
Update 09-05-05: Thanks for all of the comments and links.
A few things. Michelle Malkin has a quote from the National Guard Commander LTG Blum, that only 500 police officers were on duty in the aftermath of the flooding.
Next, I am not giving Deputy Commander Riley a pass. Not at all. And he has many more quotes to examine. But I don't want that political sycophant to take away from the work of those who did not abandon their own city.
Yes, Nagin is no Guiliani. Not even close. You can look at it that Guiliani is a leader, through and through - maybe no one could ever lead the way Guiliani did. And that is just one reason why he might be a good President.
But that doesn't excuse Nagin's behavior (abandonment) and cronyism during his city's days-long nightmare. If Mayor Nagin were a military commander, he would be charged with dereliction of duty. Many of these people in charge of New Orleans sound like they suscribe to those who visit Bourbon Street every Mardi Gras - they have no personal responisibility.
Update 2 09-05-05: And now, Nagin, is sending the police to Las Vegas to let the Guard clean up his mess. No, I didn't make that up. It's in the NYTimes. [hat tip to my father-in-law]