Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fu--No, Scratch that. LOVE the Police!

Regular readers of FloridaBlues and, really, the whole bloggerverse, are aware that there are enough villians in the cock-up that is New Orleans to fill a Flash Gordon movie. This post is not about them. Rather, I want to take this time to thank those men and women of the New Orleans Police Department who stayed behind to fight the good fight. Brian MacQuarrie of the Boston Globe has a moving piece about these officers, and it is well worth the read.

On the reactions of officers to the disaster:

Across from the mass human suffering at the fetid convention center yesterday, before a convoy of Humvees finally delivered hundreds of National Guard troops to this crime-ridden intersection of dashed hopes and mounting anger, a city police officer touched his finger to his eye and began to cry.

''I'm going to stay here till everything's done," the officer said. ''I love this city."

On why the officers in the article requested not to be named:

In the morning, when the police officer cried, he spoke caustically about the supplies that had yet to arrive for the storm victims, and the lack of food and equipment for the officers. Whatever they needed to eat, the officer said, they had taken from the looted stores around them. The officers asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the department.

(Retribution? For doing their jobs in the only manner open to them?)
On how they survived, and on how they are trying to do their jobs:

The officers had been shot at every night, he and his colleagues said, by criminals who entered the teeming convention center to rob, assault, and rape some of the hurricane victims. Given their own vulnerable circumstances, the officers said, they took over an empty Hampton Inn to serve as a command post, positioned a backhoe as a barricade, erected a bogus ''Raw Sewage Danger" sign to keep away meddlers, and bulked up their firepower, supplementing the department-issue .40mm Glock pistols with their own shotguns.

''We had to arm ourselves," said another officer, a nine-year veteran who had been on duty for 29 straight hours. ''It's against regulations, but they're shooting at us constantly."

In one foray for supplies, the officers said, they broke open a store's safe containing a cache of weapons and added the firearms to their own stash at the Hampton Inn.

(Against regulations? Screw regulations in this case!)
Finally, on why they are doing what they are doing, and what their prescence, however symbolic, means to those they are sworn to serve and protect:

Outside the convention center, as edgy National Guard troops began taking up position shortly after noon, the New Orleans police who had been there since Sunday posed for photographs with some of the storm victims.

''Y'all did a wonderful job," said Yolanda Camese, 49, as she hugged one of the officers. ''You made us feel safer. I watched you every night."

''I made a commitment to the city," said the officer, who paused for nearly a minute as he looked at the pavement. ''I made a commitment to my [police] district, and I made a commitment to these people out here and to my fellow officers. That's why I'm here."
Lord knows the New Orleans Police Department has had its share of corruption and shame. It is important, I think, to point out those times when the department goes above and beyond the call of duty. Folks, many of us on the left justifiably attack law enforcement when they place themselves beyond the pale. Now, it is time that we honor these officers in New Orleans and other ravaged areas for going beyond their duty and staying after others, understandably and blamelessly, abandonded it. Heroes, all of them. One hopes that they will be recognized as such when this is all over. Read the article!!!!!
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
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