Police Mental Health: NOPD Officers of
Darci R. Becker
Mathew A. Irimpen
Eddie Compass as leading
◦ NOPD indirectly under social
◦ Reliant on the consent and
content of the people of New
Orleans to remain a legitimate
◦ Police Chief Eddie Compass as
the authority leader.
Lockean approach to the authority failure and
state of nature situation
Authority failure
◦ Eddie Compass failed to protect natural rights of
New Orleanians
◦ Now in the process of writing a new social contract
for police authority
◦ Will properly hold NOPD responsible, accountable,
and trustworthy in protecting natural rights.
◦ Locke SON may involve illegitimate
authority (i.e. tyranny or conquest)
◦ Katrina
 Extent of police brutality and abuse of
 NOPD trials are evidence of tyrannical
and unjust use of power.
On the contrary, Compass denies that the
NOPD ever stopped protecting citizens’ right
to life: "Are you crazy?...We did everything we
could to protect human life...Where's the
chief? Where's the mayor? On the front lines
in the command."
◦ “Katrina merely accelerated problems and break
downs in the NOPD to critical mass”
 NO public made aware of the NOPD’s failure and tyranny
◦ Federal probe into NOPD
 US attorney will provide recommendations for
reforming the Department
 Approval and implementation of reforms will be
symbolic of a new social contract.
House of Cards: When the leader falls, the
rest follow
Worden: “Orientations of chiefs influence
officers’ behavior trough the medium of
organizational structure”
Repeating rumors to national media
◦ "In hindsight, I guess I heightened people's fears…reporting
these things that were reported to me”
 Murders and rapes in Dome
 Snipers shooting rescue helicopters
Worden: “Policies that set clear boundaries around the
use of deadly force and that provide for effective
enforcement...have reduced the number of shootings”
◦ Exact opposite of occurred: “Take the streets back! Do what
you have to do.”
◦ Vague orders + exhausted, stressed, paranoid officers =
 Authority tyranny and breach of social contract
“Stressed” is an understatement
◦ Suddenly homeless
◦ Exhausted from working days on end
◦ Paranoid over their personal safety thanks to Compass’
rumor repeating
In no condition to be protecting the city’s natural rights
of a city--far too unstable.
Imagine this: Deputy Chief has given you
permission to “do what you have to do.”
Is it any surprise that the city’s police authority
broke down? No.
Personal Stress: Social network endangered
“I mean, I actually had cops that were on the
radio, you know, just speaking plainly, saying
Jeff, come and get us out. You know, I mean
I’m here with my entire family and we’re
trapped in the attic and we can’t get out.”
Depression and Suicide
“Well, different people handle pressure different
ways. You know, we had some guys that
committed suicide.”
“You know, they obviously weren’t – weren’t
thinking right...we had a lot of family members
of police officers that ended up, you know,
drowning or dying.”
◦ “We put perimeter guards out to keep thugs and
gangsters from sneaking up while all these cops
were sleeping out in the open like that with their…it
was scary then because we were sleeping in pitch
darkness. I mean pitch darkness.”
“Dealing with death results in emotional
trauma and in psychological transformations
that in turn lead to the evolution of new
modes of adaptation, thought, and feeling
within the individual encounters death”
Death encounters are extremely sensitive
matters. A death imprint will have profound
effects on an officer and can result in
dramatic change of manner.
“Then we get another call of a suicide, which I don’t think
it was. I think the wind just blew him off. But a guy was
apparently walking off of the Claiborne overpass and a
wind gust blew him over the side, and he’s laying on the
ground on Claiborne and Earhart dead, under the bridge,
with his head busted open. He stayed there for a month.
They just laid there. There was nothing we could do. We
had nowhere to put them. I think, for me, that’s probably
the worst of what we had to physically deal with
ourselves. About the third week into the hurricane, we got
a call of a murder that the body was floating on Martin
Luther King and Galvez. And he had floated out of the
Calliope Project. He had a bullet hole in the head. It was
really gruesome. To be blatantly blunt with you, the body
was floating in water about three feet deep, it had dogs
chewing on it. It was awful. So. That’s the worst of it.”
Comparing Katrina and 9/11 (Henry)
◦ Katrina was extraordinary case for NOPD
◦ Massive, prolonged, unimaginable death imprint
◦ Compass: “No police department in the history
of the world was asked to do what we did”
Compass on Comparison
◦ “Yes there are similarities, but NYPD had their
families safe at home. We had our families
under duress that we had to take care of first.
Honestly my wife, pregnant at the time, was my
#1 priority.” (Compass 2010)
Take police out of picture: require military response to
large scale trauma, remove emotional ties
 Opposition – outsiders policing our city
Partner with other state national guards: Texas,
Georgia, Florida
Coast guard – specially trained for search and rescue,
Regular mandatory Psychiatric examinations for officers
“Big Brother/Sister” mentoring program in Police
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November 10, 2010 (
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York Sun. August 21.
Retrieved November 10, 2010.
Compass, Edward. 2010. Personal Interview, November 10.
CBS News. 2006. “Video: Chief Blasts Media Coverage”. Retrieved November 10,
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November 10, 2010 (
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November 10, 2010 (
Filosa, Gwen. 2005. "N.O. police chief defends force." The Times-Picayune. September 5.
Policing Katrina Wiki.
Retrieved November 11, 2010.
Henry, Vincent E. 2004. Death Work: Police, Trauma, and the Psychology of Survival. New
York: Oxford University
Kapacinskas, Vytas. 2010. “John Bryson Oral History.” Policing Katrina Wiki. Retrieved
November 10, 2010 (
Letton, James. 2010. Personal Interview, October 21.
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New Orleans Force 'Still
Standing.'” CBS Evening News. September 6. Policing Katrina
Wiki. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
Worden, Robert E., 1995. “The ‘Causes’ of Police Brutality: Theory and Evidence on Police Use
of Force,” in William
A. Geller and Hans Toch, eds., And Justice for All: Understanding
and Controlling Police Abuse of Force.
Washington: Police Executive Research Forum.
Walker, Samuel. 2003. “Victims and Offenders: Myths and Realities About Crime,” in Samuel
Walker et. al., The
Color of Justice. USA: Wadsworth Publishing.

The Rise and Fall of Edwin P Compass III