NEW ORLEANS - Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigned Tuesday after four turbulent weeks in which the police force was wracked by desertions and disorganization in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
As the city slipped into anarchy during the first few days after Katrina, the 1,700-member police department itself suffered a crisis. Many officers deserted their posts, and some were accused of joining in the looting that broke out. Two officers Compass described as friends committed suicide.
Neither Compass nor Mayor Ray Nagin would say whether Compass was pressured to leave.
At the height of the Katrina chaos, Compass fed the image of lawlessness in the city by publicly repeating allegations that people were being beaten and babies raped at the convention center, where thousands of evacuees had taken shelter. The allegations have since proved largely unsubstantiated.
Before Katrina hit, Compass already had his hands full with an understaffed police department and a skyrocketing murder rate, even as the rate dropped dramatically in other cities.
Despite more than 10 years of reform efforts dating to before Compass took office, police were dogged by allegations of brutality and corruption. Several studies indicated that the public's reluctance to cooperate with police was a factor in the city's crime problem.