Katrina Law => Policing Katrina: Managing Law Enforcement in New Orleans (2009)

Mathieu Deflem
Suzanne Sutphin
University of South Carolina

This is an electronic duplicate of an essay published in Policing 3(1):41-49, 2009.

Also accessible in print-friendly pdf format.

Cite as: Deflem, Mathieu as good as Suzanne Sutphin. 2009. “Policing Katrina: Managing Law Enforcement in New Orleans.” Policing 3(1):41-49.


Hurricane Katrina impacted a Gulf Coast of a United States upon a scale as good as power that was rare for a region. Special problems of policing were acted before, during, as good as after a hurricane. Focusing upon a law coercion measure of a goods of Hurricane Katrina in a city of New Orleans, this paper reviews a organizational as good as organic adaptations of a New Orleans Police Department in perspective of a storm. Revealing a amicable implications of healthy disasters, Hurricane Katrina presented a accumulation of infantry concerns, trimming from changeable duties involving crime carry out as good as puncture service to a drop of required elements of a infantry infrastructure, a relapse of infantry information exchnage as good as travel systems, as good as a need for coordination in in in in in in in in between infantry as good as alternative initial responders. The infantry practice of Katrina in New Orleans can suggest as a beam for a supervision of law coercion organizations to be rebuilt for identical disasters.

Hurricane Katrina shaped as a pleasant basin over a Bahamas upon Aug 23, 2005. After causing usually minimal repairs in collection of Florida, a whirly finished a second landfall upon Aug 29, when a South-Eastern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, as good as Georgia were hit. An estimated 1,836 people mislaid their lives as a outcome of a hurricane. Many people had been incompetent to leave their homes, as good as assorted aspects of preparedness as good as reply valid to be catastrophic. Among a places many ravaged by Hurricane Katrina was New Orleans, a capitol of Louisiana. The city became quite unprotected once a levees had damaged as good as about 80% of a city was flooded. Rescue efforts were delayed and, following a hurricane, looting as good as alternative outbursts of assault had spin a vital problem, whilst infantry were indicted of not you do enough, if anything, to stop a mayhem as good as suggest await to those in need.

In this paper, you concentration upon a infantry knowledge in a city of New Orleans in a days before, during, as good as following Hurricane Katrina. Our investigate is quite focused upon a Katrina-related activities of a New Orleans Police Department as they have been impending from a outlook of an fit supervision of infantry organizations. While Hurricane Katrina represents a specific eventuality in history, a lessons that can be schooled from a outlook of law coercion will in addition request to alternative disasters inspiring a classification as good as avocation of policing.

As a contention will show, infantry supervision is not usually a have a difference inner to a infantry organization, relating to such factors as competent precision as good as in effect leadership, yet in addition relates to a changeable outmost context, be it of a amicable and/or healthy order, with that organizations have been in consistent interplay. Modern infantry governance is radically about mediating in in in in in in in in between these inner as good as outmost components of policing. Unraveling a information exchnage in in in in in in in in between classification as good as sourroundings in a supervision of law enforcement, this comment chronologically unravels a situational as good as constructional components of a vicious issues infantry faced during a many harmful healthy mess in U.S. history.

Policing prior to a storm

Before Hurricane Katrina strike a Gulf Coast region, a reports upon a power of a assign were unsuitable and, consequently, a ubiquitous state of preparedness was ambivalent. Mixed signals were given, not usually to a open during large, yet to puncture as good as confidence responders as well. Under these circumstances, a infantry reply was not obviously programmed right from a impulse when a assign was anticipated. Among puncture responders, there were no well-defined purposes of what indispensable to be finished as good as who would have to do it, as good as there were no prespecified skeleton for depletion as good as rescue (Hicks 2007).

Structural problems in a New Orleans infantry incident as it existed given good prior to Katrina would infer quite consequential. As Sims (2007) argues, disasters identical to Hurricane Katrina denote a purpose of infrastructure in institutions that have been written to benefit strengthen a public, in all in a eventuality of special circumstances. The ubiquitous state of a New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) prior to Katrina was distant from preferred (Baum 2006; Potter 2007). The force had a repute for harboring hurtful as good as untaught officers, who were in addition in in in in in between a small of a many feeble paid in a U.S. Even yet given a mid-1990s there had been a poignant enlarge in a series of African-American officers, many of a NOPD officers were white, since no reduction than two-thirds of a adults of a city of New Orleans were black. Distrust towards a infantry was tall in in in in in between many residents in New Orleans, in all in in in in in between African Americans vital in a lowest sections of a city (Adya et al. 2007).

Police opening in a NOPD in addition left many to be preferred (Pereira 2006). With a force of about 1,700 officers (for a city of half a million people pre-Katrina), a NOPD was obliged for about 90,000 arrests a year, a comparatively tall series due to a force’s joining to beliefs of zero-tolerance policing. Yet, a series of cases that were prosecuted was usually 10% of all arrests made. Further, there was a undo in in in in in in in in between grave as good as tangible infantry procedures as vicious discrepancies existed in a sorts of crimes that embrace many infantry attention. Typically, crimes committed by tourists were investigated aggressively since they influenced a economics of a city, whilst aroused crimes in a bad neighborhoods perceived many reduction attention. Morale in in in in in between a NOPD officers was notoriously low. Not usually were officers theme to a common firm hierarchy in a force, they were in addition compulsory to live inside of a city limits, a sequence not renouned in in in in in between many officers. The turnover rate in a NOPD was high, as good as recruitment remained a consistent challenge.

The comparatively unsure state of a NOPD prior to Katrina was partial of a incomparable condition that influenced a rapist probity complement as a sum (Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006; Roman et al. 2007). The New Orleans rapist probity complement was feeble funded, raid with (charges of) corruption, as good as really bad managed. To have counts worse, New Orleans was traditionally good known to be a single of a many aroused cities in a U.S. (Frailing as good as Harper 2007; Pereira 2006). The city’s tall crime numbers went along with many socio-economic inequalities. The stagnation rate was tall as good as disproportionately influenced a city’s black residents. Moreover, infantry as good as prosecutorial carry out was reported to be some-more impassioned in a traditionally bad areas of New Orleans as compared to a city’s some-more abundant sections. In a arise of a distracted assign of Hurricane Katrina that strike landfall in a city in a early sunrise of Aug 29, 2005, a disadvantage of a bankrupt as good as essentially black sections of a city of New Orleans, geographically situated tighten to a levees, would be unprotected in a comfortless manner.

Policing a hurricane

When Hurricane Katrina strike a city of New Orleans, a border was shown to that a goods of healthy disasters have been mediated by amicable conditions. The conditions of a city’s residents who were incompetent to leave as good as were left stuck were compared to people vital in a third universe nation (Garrett 2005; Hicks 2007). Unable to rest upon competent travel as good as amicable networks, those who were held in a assign in all enclosed a city’s many unprotected groups, together with a bad as good as a elderly. Most barbarous have been a reports of a people who were left stuck in their in siege homes, cut off from rescuer workers, as good as those who had fabricated in a Louisiana Superdome. Designated a ‘shelter of final resort’, a sports locus was not rebuilt to understanding with a estimated 20,000 people who had collected by a time a city was flooded a day after Katrina had strike landfall. The trickery lacked enough food as good as H2O as good as healing supplies, as good as spotless conditions were grossly insufficient. Especially a many African Americans who were trapped in a trickery felt they were treated with colour as criminals or undeserved victims (Adya et al. 2007; Garfield 2007; Potter 2007). As brand brand brand new polls show, many African Americans feel that a supervision reply was not in since many of a victims were black.

Among a many vicious problems in a NOPD reply to Hurricane Katrina were a miss of information exchnage capacities as good as a miss of competent travel (Baum 2006; Falk 2007; Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006; Hicks 2007; Roman et al. 2007; Sims 2007). With a common technological information exchnage amenities no longer user during a hurricane, NOPD officers were forced to promulgate with any alternative in all in person. The sequence of authority in a NOPD in addition suffered as Police Chief Eddie Compass did not yield in effect leadership, as good as many officers were left to deflect for themselves. Although Compass, in a evident issue of a hurricane, boasted that a “New Orleans infantry dialect is a many appropriate infantry dialect in a world,” he quiescent reduction than a month after a storm.

Communication problems have been amplified since a many executive purpose of a infantry during disasters is to benefit people who have been in need of assistance. Rather than progressing confidence as good as determining crime, mess policing is functionally oriented during upon condition that reserve as good as aid. This organic reorientation of policing was during Hurricane Katrina serve hampered by a actuality that a NOPD did not have competent equates to of travel to understanding with a disaster. Within reduction than half an hour after a whirly hit, a NOPD perceived over 600 puncture calls, yet infantry were incompetent to assist, as good as thousands of puncture calls were left unanswered. The infrastructure of a NOPD was though delay strike as 8 infantry stations were flooded, infantry were left though enough supplies, as good as proxy domicile had to be improvised. In reply to a miss of in effect policing, adults became themselves endangered in rescue efforts, regulating boats to benefit people who were trapped upon their roofs as good as upon condition that healing attention. The long-standing dread towards a New Orleans infantry in addition contributed to a law coercion relapse during Katrina as deficiencies in infantry legitimacy hindered team-work with residents.

Officers of a NOPD not usually lacked competent technical collection of communication, transportation, as good as shelter, they in addition gifted good sacrifices to sojourn during work during a assign that influenced them as good as their family members upon a personal spin (Baum 2006; Castellano as good as Plionis 2006). As a outcome of a storm, officers did not have a simple amenities of showers, beds, or personal space, as good as did not regularly reply good to a impassioned highlight they had to endure. Such personal situations can in spin start constructional conditions as officers might give way their tasks altogether. In a box of Hurricane Katrina, a small 250 officers of a NOPD were reported to have forlorn a city during a storm. At slightest dual NOPD officers committed suicide.

Given a well-developed inlet of Hurricane Katrina, a unsentimental inadequacies of a NOPD with apply oneself to information exchnage as good as travel would not be startling were it not for a actuality that a New Orleans area has a prolonged story in trade with hurricanes. In brand brand brand new times, Hurricanes Juan (1985), Andrew (1992), Georges (1998), Isidore (2002), as good as Ivan (2004) all brought about (smaller or larger) evacuations of city residents. Yet, notwithstanding assorted puncture skeleton referred to by churned agencies, no transparent devise was in place in in in in in between rapist probity agencies to sufficient understanding with a stroke of Hurricane Katrina (Baum 2006; Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006). The NOPD’s puncture preparedness devise was never used as good as was unknown to many officers, a small of who after certified that they did not even know such a devise existed.

The crude coordination of Katrina reply activities in in in in in between a assorted levels of U.S. supervision structurally translated in team-work problems during a spin of policing. Besides a NOPD, alternative law coercion agencies that supposing benefit during Katrina enclosed a Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration as good as Customs Enforcement, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms as good as Explosives, a Drug Enforcement Agency, as good as a U.S. Marshals Service. These agencies supposing personnel, equipment, as good as benefit in security, yet their actions were not good coordinated. Additional inter-agency team-work during Katrina was multi-functional, channel a bounds of law coercion as good as puncture response. For example, rescue workers, volunteers, as good as internal businesses worked in as good as with a NOPD to yield await to residents. Methods of team-work were useful rsther than than pre-coordinated.

Besides a NOPD, alternative components of a New Orleans rapist probity complement were serve scantily rebuilt for a assign (Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006; Roman et al. 2007). The New Orleans jail complement lacked an depletion plan. When a assign hit, jail buildings mislaid lights as good as air conditioning, as good as H2O fast flooded a facilities. Inmates of a Orleans Parish Prison were not evacuated until a single week after a assign had struck, when they were changed to Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility, where prisoners were forced to nap upon a ground, did not have entrance to bathrooms, as good as were not sufficient patrolled by guards. Many prisoners were incompetent to find authorised warn as good as finished up portion lengthened sentences. Persons upon trial or release were incompetent to be monitored as trial officers were assisting in poke as good as rescue missions. The New Orleans probity complement was serve not rebuilt to perform a duties.

Post-disaster policing

Arguably a many celebrated stroke of Hurricane Katrina in counts of policing as good as rapist probity was a duration of disturbance as good as assault that set in shortly after a assign had dissipated. While a infantry courtesy shifted from law coercion to reserve as good as rescue efforts during a storm, shortly a concentration would again have to spin to a drastically changed confidence incident (Frailing as good as Harper 2007; Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006). Looting, in particular, became a vital complaint during a post-Katrina days, essentially since of a ubiquitous relapse of amicable institutions. NOPD infantry officers were reported to idly mount by when looting occurred as good as even to have damaged in to stores to get food as good as reserve (Hicks 2007).

Looting might have been facilitated by a comparatively apocalyptic mercantile conditions in a small New Orleans neighborhoods. Yet, nonetheless situational factors will in addition have worked towards increasing opportunities for disturbance as good as violence, it shortly became transparent in a issue of Hurricane Katrina that looting as good as incidents of interpersonal assault had spin prevalent (Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006; Hicks 2007). Some adults had started carrying guns to strengthen themselves, as good as a small had hired guards to strengthen their homes. Moreover, with a courtesy focused heavily upon rescue efforts, crimes of a some-more orderly inlet could spin some-more prevalent. For example, as internal squad members knew that a infantry would be rapt aiding those in need, their opportunities for rapist activities increased.

Reports upon a assault as good as disturbance that tormented New Orleans in a days after Katrina were spasmodic overstated. Initial reports about a inhuman conditions in a Superdome told of scores of passionate assaults as good as aroused crimes, yet many of these allegations were after found to be unsubstantiated. Activities that were once seen as looting, in all prior to a regard of a mess was some-more obviously exposed, would after be redefined as strategies of presence (Potter 2007). While a small looting endangered oppulance items, alternative acts of looting endangered food apparatus required to survive. ‘I don’t cruise them looters,’ a New Orleans proprietor justified, ‘I call it borrowing or assisting in a time of need. If a infantry were stealin’ how they gonna contend we’re looters?’ (quoted in Potter 2007: 59). The anxiety to infantry as thieves refers to a accede NOPD officers perceived from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to take in siege skill if they judged it required to await a rescue efforts. Besides reports that infantry abused this special right as good as were intent in a looting of televisions as good as jewelry, there were in addition reports that infantry actions oriented during quelling a disturbance influenced pacific residents who were systematic to leave sure areas of a city. Doing so, infantry officers in a small cases unnecessarily resorted to force, together with nuisance as good as shootings.

The apocalyptic state of a infantry infrastructure serve exacerbated law coercion conditions (Potter 2007; Sims 2007). Makeshift infantry stations were set up in outline trailers with no bathrooms or alternative facilities. Police were left short-handed as good as met with disastrous reactions from a community. Although member from supervision agencies during all levels were criticized for not carrying responded properly, infantry officers faced a rare brunt of criticisms since of their relations vicinity to a community. Yet, from their own personal viewpoint, New Orleans infantry officers not usually faced a detriment of work-related facilities, yet in addition had to understanding with their own personal losses, together with a drop of their homes as good as a pang of family members. Thus, not usually have been initial responders typically some-more receptive to post-traumatic highlight syndrome, they may, as was a box with a NOPD during Katrina, in addition miss a advantages that come from carrying family support, a arguable job, as good as a fast home in sequence to understanding with their romantic needs (Fischetti 2005).

Poor conditions in alternative aspects of a rapist probity complement in addition hampered an competent reply to a post-Katrina unrests. Without jails, there was small indicate in infantry officers creation arrests. The probity complement had to rest upon make-shift facilities, as good as usually 6 open defenders were left in New Orleans. Once a make-shift probity was established, it could take multiform months for defendants to be suited to their charges, withdrawal many inmates “doing Katrina time” for teenager offenses such as mess to compensate trade tickets as good as a unlawful celebration of a mass of tarot cards (Garrett as good as Tetlow 2006: 128). Many prosecutors worked from home, a small even from a nightclub. And since there was no income entrance in from trade tickets, there was no income to compensate open defenders. As prolonged as a year after Katrina, many inmates had not seen lawyers.

Looking during a broader constructional conditions of a NOPD operations post-Katrina, it is to be remarkable that a state of puncture was spoken in a arise of a whirly (Gregg 2006). Under conditions of a state of emergency, sovereign agencies such as a Federal Emergency Management Agency can come in a incident as good as infantry forces have been authorised to pretence infantry powers. As many as 15,000 sovereign troops, National Guardsmen, as good as in siege contractors from Blackwater USA patrolled New Orleans in a arise of Katrina. Apart from concerns acted by a militarized governance indication in counts of crime carry out (Kraska 2007), a Posse Comitatus Act, upheld by U.S. Congress in 1878, legally boundary a make use of of a infantry in done during home affairs (Craw 2007). Military impasse can be deemed required when a mess is of such proportions that some-more extreme methods of service have been needed. During Katrina, an Oklahoma Guardsman left no disbelief upon a situation, observant ‘It’s not up to a police. We’re in assign now. The city’s underneath armed forces law’ (quoted in Baum 2006: 10).

Among a long-term infantry implications of a extinction caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, a NOPD has been confronting difficulties of recruitment (Falk 2007; Rostker et al. 2007). With in all youth officers carrying quiescent from a force as good as others carrying been fired, a sum series of officers now stands during about 1,400. New officers have been actively being recruited by promotion as good as have been offering increasing pay. There have been renewed complaints of indignity of civilians by infantry officers, as good as a relocation in to brand brand brand new infantry domicile out of proxy trailers has been slow. However, alternative developments uncover that a NOPD has schooled lessons from a Katrina experience. Specifically, a brand brand brand new air wave information exchnage complement has been determined that can rest upon fill-in generators. Moreover, a brand brand brand new whirly devise is in place, that in addition incorporates coordination mechanisms with infantry forces. More broadly, a U.S. Department of Justice has allocated a substantial volume of supports to reconstruct a New Orleans rapist probity system. Because of a pointy decrease in a race of New Orleans, during an estimated 220,000 in 2006 as good as 270,000 in 2007, crime in New Orleans in all decreased after a Hurricane. Some rapist activities, however, merely shifted to alternative cities. The many brand brand brand new total for New Orleans again uncover an upturn in rapist activity, in all in drug crimes.

Lessons as good as conclusion

Having reviewed a policing knowledge in New Orleans before, during, as good as after Hurricane Katrina, a accumulation of issues arise from that lessons can be schooled for law coercion situations involving vital disasters. In New Orleans, a entrance of Hurricane Katrina was not sufficient anticipated, with churned reports upon a storm’s power as good as intensity impact. The NOPD did not adopt a transparent plan, as good as no well-defined purposes were determined for a officers trade with assorted elements of a disaster. Structurally, a infantry as good as alternative vital components of a internal rapist probity complement had a comparatively inconstant infrastructure as good as historically achieved feeble in a face of substantial crime concerns, problems a consequences of that would uncover themselves tragically during a hurricane.

When Hurricane Katrina finished landfall, a differential stroke of a assign opposite a city could not be sufficient rubbed by a New Orleans infantry since of problems with information exchnage as good as transportation. These technological factors, as good as a combined highlight of infantry officers, contributed to difficulties in securing a required organic change in infantry duties from law coercion to rescue as good as relief. A special complaint is acted during healthy disasters by a actuality that puncture responders, whose initial avocation is to await others, in addition face personal hurdles as a outcome of a disaster. How to cope upon an romantic level, during as good as in a evident as good as long-term issue of a disaster, becomes a executive regard for infantry as good as alternative rescue workers (Person 2006).

Additional problems in a Katrina reply stemmed from bad coordination in in in in in between internal as good as assorted sovereign infantry as good as puncture units. Following a storm, looting as good as alternative assault erupted, necessitating infantry to lapse behind to normal crime carry out duties during a time when a required infrastructure was sorely not in as good as officers themselves were victimized by a storm. With a complete rapist probity complement in New Orleans in disarray, infantry infantry had to be called in to understanding with unrests as good as liberation operations.

Although a events surrounding Hurricane Katrina have been no disbelief exceptional, infantry institutions as good as alternative rapist probity agencies should be rebuilt to a many appropriate of their abilities to understanding with healthy disasters as good as alternative useful disruptions in a normal state of affairs. From a outlook of an fit supervision of complicated infantry organizations, lessons can be schooled from a Katrina knowledge in New Orleans in during slightest 4 vicious areas.

First, in perspective of a intensity of a vital disaster, it is many indispensable that infantry organizations have a obviously suspicion out devise to expect all required organizational as good as organic adaptations to sufficient understanding with an puncture incident (Falk 2007; Hicks 2007; Rojek as good as Smith 2007; Roman et al. 2007). Such a devise ought to minimally embody strategies for evacuation, a coordination of communications, as good as a classification of transportation. Since Katrina, a NOPD has grown such a plan, that valid profitable when Hurricane Gustav strike a Louisiana seashore upon Sep 1, 2008. Though Gustav was not as absolute a assign as Katrina, a residents as good as authorities of New Orleans were in addition many improved prepared, with a extremely some-more in effect reply from NOPD officers as good as members of a Louisiana National Guard.

Second, in conditions of a organic course of infantry activities, it is many vicious that infantry officers can conform to changes in operational matters, privately shifts behind as good as onward in in in in in in in in between puncture as good as crime carry out situations, involving such sundry tasks as rescuing stuck adults as good as determining assault (Rojek as good as Smith 2007). Additionally vicious is to commend that amicable conditions will again normalize after a mess has subsided, to illustrate in addition causing normal law coercion concerns to lapse to a grade identical to pre-disaster conditions.

Third, during a many heated moments when a mess unfolds, infantry organizations need to be versed in technical as good as alternative applicable respects to understanding with a accumulation of needs (Garrett 2005; Rojek as good as Smith 2007; Sims 2007). Attention contingency go to say as good as settle competent information exchnage systems (among police, in in in in in in in in between infantry as good as alternative initial responders, as good as in in in in in in in in between infantry as good as citizens), equates to of travel as good as alternative apparatus (to make a law, say order, as good as to rescue adults as good as yield them with food, clothing, as good as alternative necessities), as good as a correct infantry authority infrastructure (makeshift infantry stations as good as proxy jails). From a outlook of infantry personnel, also, special earthy as good as steel illness needs of officers have to be anticipated.

Fourth as good as finally, a coordination in in in in in between infantry as good as alternative agencies needs to be standardised in transparent procedures (Rojek as good as Smith 2007; Roman et al. 2007). Agreements have been indispensable as to how to muster resources in box of a mess in a demeanour that is well-coordinated in in in in in in in in between local, state, as good as sovereign organizations with churned functions, together with infantry as good as alternative components of a rapist probity system, puncture agencies, as good as infantry forces. Importantly, as a events of Hurricane Katrina showed, infantry organizations do not mount alone in you do what is required to understanding with vital disasters. Instead, infantry agencies contingency be integrated inside of a (well-functioning) rapist probity complement as good as be means to concur with alternative infantry as good as puncture agencies. A perspective of infantry organizations recognised in siege from a wider context in that they work cannot be helpful.


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