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When The Going Gets Tough, Cops Go To Vegas

From the profiles in courage section of the NY Times:

City to Offer Free Trips to Las Vegas for Officers

By Joseph B. Treaster and Christopher Drew

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 4 – A day after two police suicides and the abrupt resignations or desertions of up to 200 police officers, defiant city officials on Sunday began offering five-day vacations – and even trips to Las Vegas – to the police, firefighters and city emergency workers and their families.

The idea of paid vacations was raised by both Mayor C. Ray Nagin and senior police officials who said that their forces were exhausted and traumatized and that the arrival of the National Guard had made way for the officers to be relieved.

"I’m very concerned about individuals who have been here, particularly since the first few days, and have been through a lot of hardship, " Mr. Nagin said in an interview.

He said most of the police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers "are starting to show signs of very, very serious stress, and this is a way to give them time to reunite with their families."

Mr. Nagin, who has been demanding more federal assistance for days as his city struggled with despair, death and flooding, said he had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the trips but the agency said it could not. He said the city, therefore, would pay the costs.

He said he believed there were now enough National Guard members in the city to allow the police to take a break and still keep the city secure, and he brushed off questions about whether such a trip might look like a dereliction of duty.

"I’ll take the heat on that," Mr. Nagin said. "We want to cater to them."

His words were seconded by the police superintendent, P. Edwin Compass III, in a separate interview. "When you go through something this devastating and traumatic," Mr. Compass said, "you’ve got to do something dramatic to jump-start the healing process."

The officials were planning to send 1,500 workers out in two shifts for five days each…

Colonel Ebbert, the senior official running the recovery and rescue operation, and Mr. Compass both said that they planned to take a break as well, but probably for less than five days, and that they would continue to direct the recovery by telephone.

Officials said they expected the military, with much greater resources, to expand rescue work, begin cleaning up the city and take the first steps toward reconstruction

"We haven’t turned over control of the city," Colonel Ebbert said.

Mr. Riley said that 40 percent of the city’s force of about 1,200 officers would remain at their posts while the others were on leave. When the first group returns, Mr. Riley said, those who stayed behind will get a break.

Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Matthews, who is also the director of the city’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, said officials viewed the time off for their security forces as essential. "We’ve been at this six days and we need to give our people a break," he said.

I hope somebody warns the Walmarts in Vegas.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, September 6th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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