The Sun is reporting claims that as many as 400 New Orleans police officers may have perished in Hurricane Katrina.
Take this figure with a grain of salt.
The general performance of the New Orleans police during the hurricane and its aftermath has been disgraceful. While many individual officers met, and some even went beyond, the call of duty, hundreds of others either fled the city before the hurricane, became looters, or simply walked off the job.
As officials in New Orleans have begun counting bodies and going house to house, it appears that the death toll will be significantly lower than the 10,000 Mayor Ray Nagin hysterically predicted.
Four hundred officers would represent about 25% of the entire New Orleans police force. Many of these officers may well have just abandoned their duty and disappeared into the general population of evacuees, with no intention of returning.
Even if all of them had stayed on duty, they would have been dispersed around the city, including areas such as the French Quarter which remained dry throughout.
This figure, like the initial death toll, will likely be much lower than predicted.
For now, however, it provides Mayor Nagin and Police Commissioner Compass with a convenient excuse for the failure of the New Orleans police, and a reason to blame the state and federal governments for not deploying troops at the speed of light to restore law and order.