Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dumas Carter, NOPD officer

From account published in City Pages ("NOPD officer who worked Convention Center describes the days after Katrina"):
Lots of people on the street were asking me where to go. I'm telling them the truth, which is I don't know, they haven't told us anything. They're telling us that somebody told them that they were told by another person who was somebody in charge of something that the Convention Center was being set up as a secondary evacuation point with food and water. Those people went to the Convention Center, and there was no food or water there for them. So now there's no water, there's no police--everybody's left the city except for the six of us. And now there's 20,000 people with no extra security down there.

We just told people that the National Guard was handling the evacuation effort, and they're not talking to us. So we've got all these people at the Convention Center, and now the captain is saying, okay, you all got to get out of the hotel. They're going to riot and they're going to burn the fucking hotel down. They're going to start this big massive thing, they're going to start killing people on Convention Center Boulevard, it's going to be a big massacre.

At this point it's like four days into it, and we're trying to explain to the captain, these people are so tired and thirsty and hungry they couldn't flip over a lawn chair if they wanted to riot. I won't say anything bad about my captain. My captain was making good decisions based on bad information. And my captain had to realize that he had to run a district of a hundred [officers], not all of whom had the testicular fortitude to stick this all out. So to keep morale up, he moves them out of the line of fire so they can sleep in a car somewhere. Whatever. That's what he had to do. When he got the proper information, he said we didn't have to leave the hotel. He said, just do the right thing. I trust you all. Do what you need to do. [...]

The majority of the people were staying outside. We were hearing all kinds of horror stories from inside, murder to rape to robberies to shootings to beatings. There was no way to verify any of that stuff. Ninety-seven percent of these people were behind us. They wanted us to be the police and they loved that we were still there. We were the only police they saw for four or five days. The majority of the conversations were, "Baby, I know you're being left here just like we're being left here and you don't know anything, but if you find out something, could you tell us?" My response was, you've got the radio--you tell us what's going on. And these people would come over and give us bulletins as they heard it from the news.
Dumas Carter is 30 and an eight year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department.


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