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New Orleans police chief calls it quits

New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, right, turns away from the microphones as Mayor Ray Nagin, left, looks on after Compass announced his retirement.

Heck, you have to wonder how many other municipal officials will move on — as if they are getting a paycheck any time soon. It had to be hard to watch your department fall apart during a natural and man-made disaster, let alone control the situation once it got out of hand.

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.

“I served this department for 26 years and have taken it through some of the toughest times of its history. Every man in a leadership position must know when it’s time to hand over the reins,” Compass said at a news conference. “I’ll be going on in another direction that God has for me.”

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.

Thanks to Blender Cat for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding