Chief: 249 New Orleans officers left posts during Katrina
By JULIA SILVERMAN
NEW ORLEANS- The New Orleans police chief says 249 officers - nearly 15 percent of the force - could face a special tribunal because they left their posts without permission during Hurricane Katrina and the storm's chaotic aftermath.
Lt. David Benelli, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, the union for rank-and-file officers, said true deserters should be fired.
"For those who left because of cowardice, they don't need to be here," Benelli told The Times-Picayune in Tuesday's edition. "If you're a deserter and you deserted your post for no other reason than you were scared, then you left the department and I don't see any need for you to come back."
But Benelli said he believes only a small fraction of the officers will wind up being deserters.
"We know there were people who flat-out deserted," he said. "But we also know there were officers who had to make critical decisions about what to do with their families.
At a news conference Sept. 5, Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley had said between 400 and 500 officers on the 1,600-member police force were unaccounted for.
Some lost their homes and some are looking for their families. "Some simply left because they said they could not deal with the catastropt
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