New Orleans police deserter cases will be reviewed in Tribunal

Police Superintendent Eddie Compass plans to assemble a tribunal to hear the cases of some 250 police officers, who left their posts without permission during Hurricane Katrina's chaotic aftermath.

The purpose of the tribunal is to separate the "outright deserters" from those with a legitimate reason for not showing up for work. In all, 249 officers (15 percent of the force) are believed to have been absent without permission.

Compass says, "We have a penalty schedule for each violation, and when that process takes place, individuals will have the right to appeal the decisions made by the bureau chiefs. The final decision and recommendation will be by me as superintendent of police."

Mayor Ray Nagin says the city attorney's office will review Compass' plan to ensure that it falls within civil service regulations, AHN reports.

Lieutenant David Benelli, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, says true deserters should be fired, "For those who left because of cowardice, they don't need to be here. 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."

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