Post-Hurricane: New Orleans Narcs Itching to Make More Busts


October 21, 2005

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans doesn't have the money to prosecute its current prisoners, prisoners whose sentences have been completed are being held weeks beyond their release date, the city still can't find 169 prisoners missing since the storm, and doesn't have a prison to keep them in (the Amtrak station is serving as a makeshift jail) if it does find them. The police department has seen 250 officers desert their posts during the flood, four officers charged with brutality, and others accused of looting. Oh, and the chief of police resigned.

But none of that is stopping the New Orleans Police Department's Vice and Narcotics Squad. In an interview this week with the Kansas City Star, head narc Capt. Tim Bayard said his 48-officer unit stayed intact throughout the crisis. The spirit of police camaraderie within the unit was so high that the entire squad, including women, shaved their heads in a statement of solidarity. "Even the women shaved their heads, ya know?" Bayard explained. "We have a dedicated bunch here."

This week, after weeks of dealing with the hurricane and its aftermath, the drug squad is itching to get back in business. Using storm-damaged Wagner's Meat Market on Claiborne Street as their station, the narcs gathered to get their orders from Bayard.

It was time to get out and bust some dopers, Bayard told his eager squad. "Stay together. Hunt in packs. And I want to drive this point home: Get in touch with your snitches. Let's get something going... If you got bad guys you can deal with, set it up. I'd like to get back to doing real police work again."

"Alright!" came the chorus of replies.

New Orleans may be recovering from the terrible damage of Hurricane Katrina, but some of its residents will soon suffer new damage inflicted by prohibition's war without end.