Skip to comments.New Orleans Police Stunned by Suicides
Posted on 09/06/2005 2:32:23 PM PDT by Borges
NEW ORLEANS -- Life wasn't supposed to end this way for Sgt. Paul Accardo: alone in chaos. He wrote a note telling anyone who found him to contact a fellow officer. He was precise, and thoughtful, to the end. Then he stuck a gun into his mouth and killed himself.
Accardo, 36, was one of two city cops who committed suicide last week as New Orleans descended into an abyss of death and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. He was found in an unmarked patrol car Saturday in a downtown parking lot.
His funeral was planned for Wednesday.
Back when life was normal and structured, Accardo served as one of the police department's chief spokesmen. He reported murders, hostage situations and rapes in measured words, his bespectacled face benign and familiar on the nightly news.
"Paul was a stellar guy. A perfectionist. Everything had to be just right," recalled Sgt. Joe Narcisse, who went to police academy with Accardo and worked with him in the public affairs office.
Uniform crisply pressed, office in order, everything just right on his desk. That was Accardo.
"I'm the jokester in the office. I'd move stuff on his desk and he didn't like that," said Capt. Marlon Defillo, Accardo's boss. "He was ready to call the crime lab to find out who messed with his desk."
Maybe, Defillo reckoned, he killed himself because he lost hope that order would ever be restored in the city.
A public information officer, the captain said, turns the senseless -- murder, rape, mayhem -- into something orderly for the public. "It's like dominoes scattered across a table and putting them in order."
But in New Orleans for the past week, the chaos seemed endless.
Like the rest of the department, Accardo worked long, difficult days -- sometimes 20 hours. He waded through the mass of flesh and stench in the Louisiana Superdome. He saw the dead in the streets.
Defillo remembered how bad Accardo felt when he was unable to help women stranded on the interstate and pleading for water and food. One woman said her baby had not had water in three days.
He even wanted to stop and help the animals lost amid the ruin of New Orleans, Defillo said.
Unable to stop the madness and hurt, Accardo sank into depression.
Narcisse remembered being on the telephone with him, complaining about the flooding when his old academy buddy cut him off midsentence: "Joe. Joe. I can't talk to you right now." He couldn't handle it anymore, Narcisse said.
"It was like you were having an awful conversation with someone who died in your family," he said.
Accardo -- who also lost his home in the flood waters -- looked like a zombie, like someone who hadn't slept in year, Defillo said. But so did so many on the 1,600-member force.
Officials said Monday that between 400 to 500 officers were unaccounted for, many tending to their homes or looking for their families, and some dropping out. To lessen the stress, officers were being cycled off duty and given five-day vacations in Las Vegas and Atlanta, where they also would receive counseling.
Said Mayor Ray Nagin: "I've got some firefighters and police officers that have been pretty much traumatized."
Police Superintendent Eddie Compass didn't know how many had abandoned their jobs outright, but denied that it was a large number.
"No police department in the history of the world was asked to do what we (were) asked," he said.
But Defillo said he never thought Accardo would kill himself.
"We kept telling him, 'There's going to be a brighter day; suck it up,'" Defillo said. "He couldn't shake it."
According to the obituary in the Advocate of Baton Rouge, Accardo left a wife, Anne; his mother, Catherine; a brother; a sister; and eight nieces and nephews.
The Vegas offer came too late.
RIP...prayer for the officers that stayed on the job when their buddies didn't.
Very sad. Prayers for him and his family.
There's been a lot of criticism of the NOPD on this forum, but I would suspect that many of them were quite heroic in their activities under very stressful conditions and without much support from either their mayor or the governor. People should knock back on the criticism and think a bit about what it must have been like in NO those few horrible days.
Am I the first? BUSH'S FAULT
*adjusting tin-foil hat*
...so was Vince Foster. I wonder if there is more behind this tale than meets the eye?
Maybe people here would rather think about the tens of thousands of people who suffered because the NOPD didn't do their job, but I do agree that for some of the NOPD who didn't desert, their job did become harder when the feds came in because they could no longer loot in uniform.
(Maybe when I stop hearing all the criticism of President Bush I'll find it in my heart to feel sorry for the NOPD. NOT!)
Their Mayor was an idiot. He inspired confidence in no one. I can understand despair in that situation. They had to know help wasn't coming anytime soon with that worthless idiot in charge.
I was wondering about this also.....
Now that Congress is doing an investigation, I'm sure we'll all know the truth soon......NOT. Paging Jamie Gorelick, paging Jamie Gorelick.....
No doubt they were facing horrific conditions, but some of them handled it and others didn't. This man had the classic signs of an Obsessive Compulsive Personality. His life was about order. He simply couldn't cope with disorder. Sad, but chances are at some point in his life he was going to face something he couldn't put in order and the result would be the same. Pray for his family.
Tragic...I just hope they're sure it's suicide...chaos often creates the perfect cover for murder.
Hard to feel for the N.O. police when I have burned in my memory the tape of the two N.O. police oficers strolling thru wal-mart looting using a shopping cart.
Matter of factly just taking.
I am sure many of the real police acted heroicly but it seems there were a lot of people that were immitating police officers/hell look at N.Y. police officers and compare.
Prayers...but my prayers go to the men who fought the crime, helped their citizens and stayed on the job.
Wonder if he was one of the cops Shep and the other newsmen kept harrassing. I felt embarrassment for the ignorance of these so-called reporters.
Very good analysis. Everything was out of control and beyond his control so there seemed to be only one option available to him for regaining control.
Worked for him but unleashed a hell for his family and coworkers for months or years to come.
My bet is that they saw that, with the flooding of New Orleans, the revenue streams from kickbacks, payoffs and graft would end and they were already in over their heads. Of course, I may be wrong, it may be that there wholesale/retail drug suppliers were gone and they had nowhere to go!
Prayers are a waste. He was a atheist.
Weren't they in the shoes & socks isle? It really does depend on what they were taking whether or not it was wrong. Do you think they had family (children) at home with needs, after this disaster? DVD players, a TV, VCR, latest hip-hop CD's? Didn't look like that kind of stuff to me.
Don't be merciless. I'm tough, but not merciless. Have mercy, they were in the throes of disaster with people dying around them and neck deep in nastiness for 2 or 3 days, with no clean water, and on foot wading thru nastiness.
James 2:13 "For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment."
That said, I don't want my money taken from me to rebuild that city in a fish bowl.
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