Thursday, June 15, 2006

Complaints Against New Orleans Police Are Up

Complaints against the New Orleans police force are up, though it's not clear if this is because the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has caused people to be less accepting of the established order or because the police are indeed even more abusive than before. "For some residents, the sense that the city is on edge and the department's future uncertain has brought echoes of the days when the local police were considered among the least competent and most racist and brutal in the nation."

"Given where they are mentally and emotionally, we've gotten more citizen complaints about the way the police are treating people than we have in a long time," said Oliver M. Thomas Jr., the City Council president. "Over the last two years, they'd been getting better and more professional. But I've been hearing lots of complaints about verbal abuse."

It's surely not a hopeful sign that the new "blunt-talking" police superintendent uses phrases like "gutter punks."

The article also notes that one of the reasons the force is having difficulty recruiting new officers is the lack of affordable housing. Some officers "have had to double up with other officers or move to distant suburbs to find housing they can afford on their salaries of $35,000 to $50,000." One can only imagine the difficulties in returning to the city for the significant percentage of the city's former population who don't earn a decent wage.

[Christopher Drew, "Police Struggles in New Orleans Raise Old Fears," New York Times, June 13, 2006]

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