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HURRICANE KATRINA NOPD SURVIVING THE FLOOD. Vytas Kapacinskas Will D’Avella. “During the Katrina days, we weren’t living in the real world, we were living in a holocaust.” Former police Lt. David Benelli. AGENDA. Preparing for the storm Establishing Command Posts Equipment

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Presentation Transcript



Vytas Kapacinskas

Will D’Avella


“During the Katrina days, we weren’t living in the real world, we were living in a holocaust.”

Former police Lt. David Benelli

  • Preparing for the storm
  • Establishing Command Posts
  • Equipment
  • Living Conditions
  • Reconnecting with family
  • Improvements after the storm
  • Social Contracts
  • Conclusion
evacuation plans
Evacuation Plans
  • Role of NOPD for evacuation
  • August 27 - Voluntary Evacuation
  • August 28 – Mandatory Evacuation
  • 50,000-100,000 individuals remain in city
personal preparation
Personal Preparation
  • “The day before, we all go in for roll call and we’re basically told that we’re reporting for work and we pretty much won’t be able to leave until this is over. Some of [the officers] were whining, but all week long we had been told, you’re a police officer, and once you go active we’re going to be on active duty for the remainder. Make sure that your families are out and your houses are taken care of, because we can’t have you worrying about your family, your house, your dog, and be a police officer.”

-Dumas Carter, NOPD

  • Officers also brought in their own personal equipment to use such as boats and axes.
establishing command posts
Establishing Command Posts
  • Intially, Police Units bunkered down wherever they could find shelter but as the flooding came most converged on the French Quarter or CBD
  • Units still seperated with little communication, “rally points” were called by Jeffrey Winn and Warren Riley

-“We never had the tractor trailer command post, we never had the mobile home command post, nothing. And that remained like that for three or four weeks. Maybe even longer than that. Those command posts disappeared. We didn’t know where they were at. Okay. So, our command post was the trunk and the hood of the police cars. And, based off of that, we coordinated” –Timothy Bayard

  • Harrah’s Casino became the makeshift command center
  • Sheraton Hotel + Royal Sinestra also used
  • NPR Reports on September 3rd – “There is no central command post”
limited equipment
Limited Equipment
  • In preparation for the hurricane many squad cars were moved into low lying garages to protect from wind damage
  • The NOPD lost a quarter of its patrol cars within the first several hours of flooding
  • Police resorted to using personally owned boats and commandeering u-haul trucks in order to help with the rescue effort

A mobile command post housed in an eighteen-wheeler’s trailer and equipped with radios, generators, and emergency supplies, but somebody had moved it out of the city for protection from wind and flooding, and no one knew where it was.

Police resorted to commandeering boats and trucks in order to aid with the rescue effort.

Homeland Security restrictions on non terrorism-related funding, along with the department’s chronic under-funding, contributed to the lack of disaster response equipment and training available to the NOPD.

“Nothing. We had nothing. You know. And, you know -- and then I had somebody tell me, well, that -- that’s expensive to do that. Who is he to put a price on a person’s life? How many people died because we couldn’t do what needed to be done?”

– Timothy P. Bayard, CPT on Vice and Narcotics

living conditions of nopd
Living Conditions of NOPD
  • Most of the officers reported for duty at 4 PM the night before the hurricane hit New Orleans, bringing only a bag of clothes with them.
  • Most officers went several days without having established shelter
  • “It became clear that the department had no way to respond to the crisis: no boats, no cars, no ammunition, and no way to communicate effectively. . . the police were trying to fight the disaster with a couple of picnic tables and a few folding chairs set up in a casino driveway. They had nothing to eat, nothing to drink, no cots, no place to relieve themselves.” – Dan Baum
  • “. . . and you know what their complaint was? All they wanted was clean underwear and a shower.” –John Bryson, NOPD

“I forgot to do the -- the first thing that all commanders have to do. I forgot to sleep. And it was Saturday, and I didn’t know my name. I was dehydrated. I was -- as a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with dehydration, sleep deprivation, and exhausted.” –CPT John Bryson

  • “You take like little 10 minute cat naps. . . and you’re sleeping with your gun on your lap because you know that there’s people out there. They assumed that we have everything that we needed, which we didn’t.”
  • – Officer Sabrina Richardson
  • “And they had some people that came inside the hotel and they woke up and they had people standing over them with guns. So, after that happened, we were like I don’t think we need to go to sleep any more.”
  • – Officer Shannon Reeves

Lack of planning by NOPD contrasts sharply with Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, where no police vehicles were rendered inoperable because they had been moved to higher ground.

  • Prisoners and records evacuated prior to storm.
  • No break in functionality.

“As an institution, though, the New Orleans Police Department disintegrated with the first drop of floodwater.” –Dan Baum The New Yorker

reconnecting with family
Reconnecting with Family
  • Most officers had experience dealing with hurricanes
    • They knew to get there family situated before landfall
    •  “It is harder to focus on my job if I have no idea where my family is or if they are safe. The officers that didn’t prepare…their lives fell apart.” - Captain John Bryson
    • ” You know, I felt comfortable that my family was alright. I knew they had everything -- when I left, I knew they had everything that they needed” – Anthony Cannatella
  • Focus had to be on their job
    • Many waited a week to ten days to reach their families
    • Communication difficult – some had cell phones, or access to satelitte phones
  • Up to 70% were seperated from immediate family for months after the storm
return to normalcy
Return to Normalcy?
  • Survey of 900+ officers 3 months Post-Katrina:
    • 55% said homes were uninhabitable
    • 69% still separated from family
    • 67% had respiratory problems or other illnesses
    • 54% had skin rashes
    • 45% suffering from PTSC or depression
  • In the post-Katrina environment, the job of each officer is more difficult because officers have to manage customer contact in a professional way while having to deal with their own families being separated, houses and personal belongings being destroyed, opportunities to earn extra income through details no longer exists, and the entire future of their hometown hangs in the balance between insurance companies and government agencies.  
  • Life had not returned to normal, stresses continued to mount
post katrina

List of 27 recommendations for organizing emergency response in the city

Addresses equipment issues such as generators, food, water, breaching equipment, fuel and boats

His first point targets the Office of Emergency Preparedness

Ends with a question about what happened to the missing command center

Biggest Flaw: Failure to Communicate

  • Captain Timothy P. Bayard submits an after action summary of Katrina October 16, 2005
improvements after the storm
Improvements After the Storm
  • Former NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley’s Plan:

1) Supplies enough to sustain life for seven to 10 days

2) Fuel

3) Immediately available support from National Guard units

4) Vehicles appropriate for the situation, i.e., high-water vehicles and boats

5) Medical supplies,

6) Communication system shared by state, local and federal agencies

7) Training for emergency situations

8) Plan with primary and secondary staging areas identified and

9) Recruiting new officers to expand the size of the department.

improvements cont common points
Improvements cont. - Common Points
  • Reliable Communication
    • “So it was – the communications – if we learn anything from this, the federal government has got to step up to the plate and put a radio system in place that everybody could use... – I mean, you can’t communicate – you’re dead – and I’m telling you, the communications was – that’s the worst of it.” – Deputy Chief Anthony Cannatella
    • “that was the biggest problem with the whole storm, was the lack of coordination. I’m telling you” – Captain Timothy Bayard
  • Supplies
    • Police units had no basic supplies – water, food, fuel
    • Many units lost all transportation vehicles, other necessary vehicles had to be commandeered –boats
    • How can we expect a police unit to operate during a natural disaster with these conditions?
social contract hobbes s s o n
Social Contract – Hobbes’s S.O.N.
  • Hobbes state of nature- without rule of law, individuals will be guided by self interest and a “war of every man against every man” will break out
  • Did post-Katrina New Orleans devolve into a Hobessian state of nature?
first consider
First Consider

11 shot, 5 police related fatalities

30,000+ people saved from their homes in the first few days by NOPD+co.

Only around 6,000 National Guard Troops arrived, 40,000 requested by Governor Blanco

  • City was 80% flooded
  • Massive infastructure failures
  • Breakdown in Communication and Command Structure
  • 100,000 people remaining in city by August 28th
  • Only, 1,500 NOPD officers as first responders
katrina not a complete state of nature
Katrina not a complete State of Nature
  • On, an institutional level there was a complete breakdown
  • But, on an individual level NOPD officers overall made a positive impact and helped establish order rather quickly considering the circumstances
  • So, no this was not a city ruled completely by self interest and individual warfare
john locke
John Locke
  • All individuals are rational and understand the virtue of morality.

(they are good natured)

  • The state/government can be disbanded or revoked if it continues to abuse its powers to the detriment of the peoples it was created for.
  • “According to Lockean consent theory, a government that steadily and deliberately fails to act within the terms of its trust has no moral standing… and so may be resisted.”
  • The Social Contract in post Katrina New Orleans was not revoked by the people.

“But the most amazing thing is that it’s made me a different person. A stronger person. And I think it’s made a lot more people realize that we spent all our time planning on how to prepare for these disasters . . . You can’t. It’s the response. It’s the response.”

CPT John Bryson

CDR 5th District NOPD

  • Baum, Dan. "Deluged: When Katrina hit, where were the police?” Editorial. The New Yorker. 9 Jan. 2006. Web. <>.
  • Oral history interview with Anthony Cannatella, 2006 February 15
  • Oral history interview with Timothy P. Bayard, 2006 January 19
  • Farber, Daniel. “This Isn’t Representative of Our Department:”
  • Lessons from Hurricane Katrina for Police Disaster Response Planning. April 28, 2006.
  • Oral history interview with John P. Bryson, 2005 December 6
  • Oral history interview with Jeffery Winn, 2006 February 15
  • Hustmyer, Charles. "NOPD versus Hurricane Katrina." Editorial. Tactical Response Magazine July 2006. Web.
  • A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 2006. Web.
  • Bayard, Timothy P. Hurricane Katrina-2005 After Action Sumary. Department of Police Interoffice Correspondence. New Orleans, 2005. Web.
  • Morris, Christopher. 1999. The Social Contract Theorists. Lanham, MD.: Rowman and Littlefield.