Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

New Orleans PD


Mayor Ray Nagin
Mayor Ray Nagin

Approximately 80 percent of the New Orleans Department's 1,500 officers lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.  Many lost everything they owned.  Two officers were so overcome by the devastation that they committed suicide.

To date, 50 New Orleans police officers, including one sergeant, have been fired for abandoning their posts.  Sixty others have resigned.  Disciplinary hearings will be held for an additional 130 officers who were missing or unaccounted for after the storm.  Many will likely be exonerated.  The flooding stranded some; others who couldn't make it to their assigned units teamed up with whomever they could find and conducted rescue operations.  In the end, 90 percent of New Orleans police officers did what they were supposed to do.  Most did a lot more.

"This is unprecedented in our country," Dr. Howard Osofsky told The Associated Press in October 2005.  Osofsky is a professor of psychiatry at the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans.  "There is no disaster that has had the amount of trauma for a department that this has, where so many police officers have lost homes, been separated from their families, had loved ones living in other places with no idea when they'll return."

Capt. Robert Norton has nothing but praise for the officers he worked with and those he saw in action.  "You had police officers who didn't know where their families were, who had no contact with their families for days, and they were still out there working...out there saving lives," he says.  "When you see these guys pulling people off of rooftops and pulling them out of homes, it was just amazing.  Some of the stuff that happened was just totally heroic."


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