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Crime Doesn’t Take A Holiday On “Katrina” Ship

From the Alabama Mobile Register:

No holiday for crime on ship

Thursday, October 20, 2005

By Susan Daker Staff Reporter

Nearly 30 arrests ranging from domestic violence to drug possession have been made on the Holiday cruise ship in Mobile since Hurricane Katrina evacuees moved in a month ago, a police spokesman said.

The arrest rate on board the ship during its service as an evacuee shelter has been significantly higher per thousand people than the average arrest rates in Alabama and Mississippi, according to available criminal statistics.

Police received 98 calls summoning officers to the Carnival Cruise Line ship from Sept. 17 through Monday, Oct. 17, according to information provided by Cpl. Marcus Young, police spokesman. The Mobile Police Department is responsible for security on board the ship, which is docked in downtown.

Slightly more than 1,200 people are residing on the ship, although that number has been as high as 1,400, said Sheila Gurganus, Alabama Cruise Terminal manager.The Holiday has a capacity of 1,452 guests.

Police have made 27 arrests aboard the ship thus far, including four for domestic violence, six for public drunkenness, and three for disorderly conduct. There have been 11 drug-related arrests. The most serious charge appears to be possession of cocaine, a felony.

Three arrest warrants have been served on the ship, Young said. One was a forgery warrant out of Mississippi; no records were available on the other two warrants.

Also, officers have helped locate three missing children on the ship, assisted five times with mental patients and dealt with seven calls for disorderly people.

According to the FBI, which tracks arrest rates from data collected by local law enforcement agencies, Alabama had an average of 4.3 arrests per 1,000 people a month in 2004. Mississippi, meanwhile, averaged about 6.3 arrests per 1,000 people per month last year.

The number of arrests on board the Holiday for the past month computes to about 19 per 1,000 people, based on a ship occupancy of 1,400.

When evacuees first checked onto the ship, they had to pass through metal detectors and their luggage was screened, Gurganus said. People leaving the ship to run errands or make other temporary trips are required to check in and out, Gurganus said. She was unsure whether people and their possessions were being screened upon their return.

The Mobile Fire Rescue-Department has received 14 emergency calls to the ship since Sept. 17, said spokesman Steve Huffman.

In the beginning of September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency contracted with the cruise line to charter the Holiday and two other ships for evacuees.

The deal with the federal government, worth in excess of $200 million, has sparked controversy in Congress, with some lawmakers expressing concern that the government paid too much.

FEMA would prefer to dock the Holiday in Mississippi, the home state of most evacuees on board, but has not decided when the ship will depart. Gurganus said the terminal officials hear "something different every day."

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 20th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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