9/27/2005

Leader of New Orleans Police Resigns - Yahoo! News

NEW ORLEANS - Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigned Tuesday after four turbulent weeks in which the police force was wracked by desertions and disorganization in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
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"I served this department for 26 years and have taken it through some of the toughest times of its history. Every man in a leadership position must know when it's time to hand over the reins," Compass said at a news conference. "I'll be going on in another direction that God has for me."

As the city slipped into anarchy during the first few days after Katrina, the 1,700-member police department itself suffered a crisis. Many officers deserted their posts, and some were accused of joining in the looting that broke out. Two officers Compass described as friends committed suicide.

Neither Compass nor Mayor Ray Nagin would say whether Compass was pressured to leave.

"It's a sad day in the city of New Orleans when a hero makes a decision like this," said Nagin, who appointed Compass in mid-2002. "He leaves the department in pretty good shape and with a significant amount of leadership."

New Orleans evacuees at a shelter in Baton Rouge disagreed over the chief's legacy and whether he should have resigned.

"It's about time," said Larry Smit, 52, who owns a construction company. "Get rid of all of them. They ain't doing anything."

But truck driver James Dordain, 41, said Compass had been doing a good job with an understaffed department and faced with an unprecedented natural disaster.

"They pushed a good man to the breaking point," said Dordain, referring to other government authorities. "When they came, it was really too late."

The mayor named Assistant Superintendent Warren Riley as acting superintendent.

Lt. David Benelli, president of the union for rank-and-file New Orleans officers, said he was shocked by the resignation.

"We've been through a horrendous time," Benelli said. "We've watched the city we love be destroyed. That is pressure you can't believe."

Leader of New Orleans Police Resigns - Yahoo! News

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