Wednesday, February 22, 2006
New Orleans honors the cops who stayed
Walk into any tourist trap in the French Quarter and you will see a shirt that reads -- "Hurricane Katrina came and all I got was a new Cadillac and plasma TV."

It's a jab at the New Orleans Police Department. In the days after the storm, some cops were accused of looting high-priced items like plasma TVs. Others, it is alleged, swiped some cars from a Cadillac dealer.

Sgt. Todd Morrell can look at the shirt now and summon a slight chuckle. But nothing about Katrina was a laughing matter for him and other members of the city's SWAT team in the days after Katrina.

Morrell went into the flooded Ninth Ward after the hurricane, and he was simply shocked. He and other officers had two small flatboats, along with a chainsaw he had borrowed from his father and forgot to return.

For days on end, he used that chainsaw to free residents trapped in attics. He and the other New Orleans officers who stayed on the job did this work out of the media spotlight. They worked around the clock before most reporters even made it to the mostly heavily flooded areas. Morrell is credited with rescuing hundreds of people.

Today, some long overdue recognition came his and his colleagues' way. All the New Orleans officers who stayed on the job received a pin honoring their dedication and hard work.
Posted By Sean Callebs, CNN Correspondent: 6:53 PM ET
A pin? They deserve more than just a lousy pin. With the real possibility that they probably lost everything while they were rescuing others, a pin is just a pathetic way to honor these heroes.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Albany, NY : 7:16 PM ET
A pin? How touching. It's great that they were honored, but c'mon. "Thanks for saving so many lives. Here's your increditbly small token of appreciation."
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Key Largo, FL : 7:25 PM ET
Bravo! Thanks for covering this. I hope those folks are getting the psychological support they need- they were in a war zone without the benefits of war training. They are truly heros.
Posted By Anonymous Pat Fox, Sultan, WA : 7:29 PM ET
Why is it that the whole is always judged by the acts of the few -- unless those acts are honorable! While there was a lot of media coverage about the New Orleans public workers who abandoned their jobs in droves, those who stayed do not get even a fraction as much attention.

After the September 11 terrorist attack, the NY firemen and police officers who responded emerged as heroes. Their Katrina counterparts deserve just as much graditude and admiration. They are overworked, resented, blamed for circumstances they did not cause, and forced to do the hardest jobs with the least effective support and equipment. Worse yet, once their work shift is over, they have their own damaged homes and disassembled families to put back together. Like the 9/11 firemen who perished, the public servants who remain in New Orleans were also victims themselves.

These stalwarts are holding what's left of the city together.
Posted By Anonymous Michele Jackson, Porter Ranch, CA : 7:33 PM ET
you have GOT to be kidding me. A pin? And a pat on the back?

I have no words.
Posted By Anonymous Valerie Jackson, MS : 7:36 PM ET
Wow! A pin? Is that all they could come up with. Good God!
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, Juneau, AK : 7:37 PM ET
These people took and oath to protect and defend. However, they stayed behind while their families had to be concerned about their safety and welfare of those left behind.

I am in hopes that somehow besides knowing that the job was done well, and besides getting a pin, that they will be blessed in ways beyond measure.
Posted By Anonymous Brenda Dacula, GA : 7:43 PM ET
Honestly, what do you expect them to get? What does any hero get in this country? They're reward is knowing that they saving the lives of hundreds. No offense, but seriously, heros who've accomplished more public rescues and the like get rewarded with a few minutes on TV and maybe a plaque. These guys don't do their job for rewards, they do it because no one else can.
Posted By Anonymous Hakeem, Rockport, CT : 7:51 PM ET
I am appalled that all they got was a pin - C'mon!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Darya Ward, Thousand Oaks, CA : 7:51 PM ET
Honor is an idea, not a thing. A pin, a leaf, a bag of dirt... It does not matter what they receive as long as in their hearts and in the hearts of the readers they are honored and respected. I am not so offended by the small token, as I am by the fact that it took this long to honor them in general.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin M. Warren, NJ : 7:52 PM ET
The governor of Louisiana should personally hold a ceremony to honor these public servants, offering framed citations for their courage and sacrifice. A pin is a start, but really, a formal ceremony held in their honor would be much more respectable (and it would likely get them some more of the media coverage they deserve).
Posted By Anonymous Will, Rolla MO : 7:57 PM ET
Thanks for this story..The good police deserve the recognition..As with any disaster, there will always be people who do the right thing, step up to the plate and never seek out a journalist to toot their own horn..It's always great when those such "heroes" get a much deserved pat on the Back. Congrats and A Big Thank you to those officers.
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton Calif. : 8:00 PM ET
They deserved more than a pin. They deserve recognition by the entire nation. The media is quick to cover all the things that went wrong with Katrina. What about these honorable men and women? Don't they deserve national recognition, for the heroes that they are.

I am a Katrina survivor. Without their help, many more people would have died.
Posted By Anonymous Charmaine Jordan Houston, Tx is my temporary home. : 8:01 PM ET
I hope that through my donations to the hurricane maybe I bought one of those pins. It would make me feel a little better that at least it was used for something good, rather than caught up in the "paperwork" problems.
Posted By Anonymous jenn, dayton, OH : 8:04 PM ET
It's all the city can afford.
I'm glad they were honored and hope more good things come to them.
Posted By Anonymous Leslie, New Orleans, LA : 8:05 PM ET
There is a long history of our nation's heros proudly wearing their badges of honor on their chests. Look at any military person in uniform. I thank God we have such people as the New Orleans police officers who stayed to help others while their own families and homes were falling to ruin. I hope, however, that they didn't do it because they thought someone would erect a monument to them, but because of a sense of humanity and compassion, the deep-seated knowledge that it was the "right" thing to do. People who operate from that level of committment don't need the frivolous trappings of public gratitude and appreciation to give them the warm and fuzzies. They were, after all, doing their job, to "serve, protect, and defend" the people of New Orleans. For myself, I would proudly wear a medal on my uniform chest.
Posted By Anonymous LComstock, Fairbanks, AK : 8:09 PM ET
Some organizations give pins for perfect attendance. Surely what these men and women did deserves more than a token? Yes, when they take that oath to serve and protect they know what they are getting into, but c'mon - is any officer (or civilian) prepared to deal with the type of situation that happened when Katrina hit? At the very least, I'd hope that these men and women get some paid time off to try to put their own homes back together. And I'd also hope their dedication is recorded in their personnel shields for future promotion and benefits.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Bloomington, IL : 8:11 PM ET
What a slap in the face. I realize budgets are stretched beyond belief...but the city really could have done something more. They should have waited and kicked off Mardi Gras with some kind of ceremony honoring all those that gave so much when the storm hit. Just imagine the reaction from the crowd when they were presented with those "wonderful" pins?
Posted By Anonymous Corey James, Milwaukee, WI : 8:12 PM ET

Big or small I am very glad to see finally recognition was given to those police officers that stayed dedicated to their City and the people that lived in it.

Now, maybe the City can go a little bit further and get some decent housing for these police officers.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island, NY : 8:14 PM ET
My first reaction was the same as others who couldn't believe a pin was the recognition they received.

Second thought was that those who fight in our armed forces and are injured in battle receive a similar token of honor.

There are soldiers who risk as much every day as these honorable police did and never receive such a memento of gratitude.

The question is will the people of the city support their police and show their thanks, the way the NYPD and NYFD were thanked after their service in 911.
Posted By Anonymous Kel, Des Moines, IA : 8:18 PM ET
A pin? I certainly hope there was a medal attached to it. Because the men and women who stayed behind and did their job with valor and honor certainly have a proud chest on which to pin it.

And, given the destruction of their homes and lives, while responding above and beyond the call of duty, these unsung heroes not only deserve the thanks of grateful city, state and nation, they, too, could benefit from the equivalent of a 911 Fund to help restore their lives.
Posted By Anonymous Craig, Hudson, OH : 8:20 PM ET
A pin seems so, inadequate, somehow. But hey, the city is broke, so a pin is probably all they'll get - that and the personal satisfaction of a job done above and beyond the call of duty. It is unfortunate that it took this long for official recognition, but the real injustice is the lack of media coverage. We heard all about the few less-than-professional cops, but nothing about those who performed so tirelessly. Yes, rescue and risking one's life are all part of the police job description, but even the 9/11 NYPD didn't have to contend with fears for their families while they did their jobs. No, a pin just doesn't seem to get the job done. But these New Orleans cops sure did. We are all proud this day.
Posted By Anonymous Cheri MacLean, Raleigh, NC : 8:20 PM ET
A pin!? The city can come up with a Mardi Gras celebration, but can't come up with something better for those that sacrificed their own safety & that of their families (by being unable to be with said families) to aid others. Don't forget the fire & EMS workers either - I haven't heard of any of them even getting a pin. I think the entire government of LA & New Orleans could stand a clean sweep replacement. Yes, public servants sign on "to serve and protect" but local, state and federal governments owe them recognition for "service above and beyond the call of duty" and in my opinion, a pin doesn't quite do it.
Posted By Anonymous Andrea Stevens NREMT-P, Warner Robins, GA : 8:27 PM ET
And to the pin we cry shame. And to my lack of help, I cannot leave unwoken. Honor is an earned badge. Where is your pin? For I have none. I am quite sure that their pin is worth far more than my selfishness.

Is there a fund specifically designated to these officers?
Posted By Anonymous Paul Stine, Reston, Virginia : 8:28 PM ET
A Pin! That is all they got? A Pin? Come on, these guys deserve so much more than that. I am not sure there is anything they could be given to thank them enough, but I know a pin is certainly a long way from a proper thank you. These people had their homes and families torn apart, yet still came to work each day and worked extremely hard under circumstances most people couldn't even imagine. It is OK though because they got a pin. It kind of makes you wonder doesn't it?
Posted By Anonymous Chris B., Portland, Oregon : 8:28 PM ET
Most of you are completely missing the point. Its not about the pin. Its not about anything material. The pin is purely a symbol. If you think these good deeds deserve more material possessions, by all means, send them money, give them your car, whatever. Soldiers and Marines who lose their limbs get a medal that costs about $28 (I myself have earned one). I supose you would equate someone's leg being worth $28. I think you get the point. These heros were honored, which is what matters. They didn't do these acts for glory, fame or money, they did it because they were extraordinary people and they did what was right. All that being said, please shut up about the pin! Get out of the Powerball "what's in it for me" mindset. Your missing the point!
Posted By Anonymous James, Camp Lejeune, NC : 8:35 PM ET
A pin? How about a raise? Award? Promotion? Those men deserve so much more for all of the work they did when they were deserted by outside help for days. Those men risked their lives, health, and safety in saving others. They're heroes for not deserting when they could have easily done so, and they deserve so much more than a small pin.
Posted By Anonymous Chantel, Boulder, CO. : 8:37 PM ET
Thanks for the story. As for the pin, its significance is in the eye of the beholder. I am hoping that these officers can remember their heroism every day that they wear their pins. The officers who became criminals or simply didn't show up for work are hopefully long gone. But it is gratifying for our nation to know that the real heroes are still showing up for their jobs every day. Thank you to these brave individuals who performed their duties in the face of unimaginable and heartbreaking conditions.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Van Cleve, Minneapolis, MN : 8:38 PM ET
Good thing FEMA wasn't handling this. Otherwise the pin would have been made out of toxic materials and would be held in a containment unit until someone figured out how to hand the pin off without immediately killing them...eventually only to be thrown away.

It really is a shame that such great acts are overshadowed. Saving one life is worth more than 100s of stolen TVs. And it's certainly worth more than a commemorative pin.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, Los Angeles CA : 8:43 PM ET
Recognition is a very good thing, but a pin? I wonder how many of these police officers and their families are still looking for a place to live besides a hotel room or a cruise ship or with relatives. How about helping them get into a house or trailer or apartment. That would mean so much more than a pin.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Murphysboro, IL : 8:47 PM ET
If I had rescued hundreds of people like these brave people did, a pin would have been fine. My true reward came the day I saved the family that was sure to drown, saved the children that would have never seen their folks again. Now thats a medal of honor.
Posted By Anonymous Nate, Argyle, WI : 8:51 PM ET
As an active duty service member I would like to inform the American Public, that "just a pin" is a pretty awesome gesture. Our nation has being disgracingly ungrateful, the men and women that are truely heros, get all the recognition they deserve, every time they wear their uniform. We recieve all the recognition we need when the one we helped shows gratitude with a simple thank you. But more importantly we do not accomplish our duties for publicity, but for the pride of our nation, and the true heros are the humble men and women that put that same uniform on tomorrow and stand proud and willing to do it all over again.
Posted By Anonymous Leah Preicado, Goldsboro NC : 8:52 PM ET
How about something useful, like, "we'll pick up the rent tab while you're an active member of the force"?

I think this reduces "token of appreciation" to the level of the FBI's infamous $500 check with a freakin' picture...

Ever wonder why so many people go bad? The fall's a pain, but the benefits package is so much better.
Posted By Anonymous James Buchanan, Laurel, MD : 8:55 PM ET
The pin may seem like a small and trite reward for such heroic deeds, but I can assure you the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department, who earned it, will proudly wear that pin on their uniforms for the rest of their days. I for one am comforted knowing there are men in women in uniform who did so much, never expecting a single thing. Wear it with pride.
Posted By Anonymous Tim R. in Fort Worth, TX : 8:57 PM ET
I would imagine that right now New Orleans can only afford a pin. Still, I hope these loyal, self-sacrificing men and women get the national recogition they deserve. Please tell them Americans outside the region are also proud of them, we acknowledge the sacrifice of their families, we are greatful they were there working with compassion and integrity.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara Galecki, Rochester Hills, Michigan : 8:57 PM ET
As suggested by Aristotle, excellence stems from a person doing something repeatedly. It would seem that the repeated lack of our political leaders to do things for the truly deserving people suggest that instead of being a nation with leaders who demonstrate excellence, that we are a nation lead by people concerned about imagery - i.e. their's. Those who stayed are hero's, but they unfortunately are receiving nothing other than our leaders' ability to distribute nothing but imagery tokens.
Posted By Anonymous Allen Broyles, Wichita, KS : 9:01 PM ET
My Dad was a cop and he did it because it was right. The NO police who stayed on the job need to have something more than a pin to acknowledge what they and their families sacrificed for the sake of the city.
Posted By Anonymous Dan McLellan, Durham, NC : 9:05 PM ET
How often do YOU get anything extra for doing the job you're paid to do?
Posted By Anonymous John, North Haven, CT : 9:09 PM ET
They don't deserve anything more than a pin for doing their jobs. What have they done more than anyone in the last 4 wars we've had that came home to nothing more than pins. It is a long upheld traditional symbol of accomplishment. That should be all they need, otherwise they aren't doing these great things for the right reasons.
Posted By Anonymous Brandin Zink, Salt lake City, UT : 9:11 PM ET
One more comment ... where is the salute from the President?He has ignored this city. One more reason Congress should hold him accountable for malfeasance.
Posted By Anonymous Dan McLellan, Durham, NC : 9:13 PM ET
If the pin was awarded as part of a ceremony honoring their service, then I have no problem with that. I am a police officer, and I know that most of my brothers and sisters do the job because they are driven to do it. It is a calling, so to speak. However, if the pin was, say delivered to their inbox, then that is patently wrong. The right thing to do is to hold a ceremony to honor the service of these officers as an example for other officers to follow. No material reward is necessary.
Posted By Anonymous Brannon, Jacksonville, Fl : 9:20 PM ET
Pin or no pin, they were doing their jobs and what was expected of them. What I'd like to see is a Wall of Shame website with names and photos of police who abandoned their posts, looted alongside common criminals and took advantage of an immense tragedy to engage in acts of cowardice, greed and selfishness.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Estes Park, CO : 9:22 PM ET
A pin may sound trivial, but what else can be offered? Probably no item or amount of cash would seem adequate for the work that these people do. It's the sentiment that is most important, and sometimes a heartfelt, sincere expression of gratitude carries more meaning than any tangible object. I only hope that this was given along with the pin.
Posted By Anonymous Amy, Bloomington, Indiana : 9:22 PM ET
They were lucky to get a pin in the first place. Why? BECAUSE THEY WERE DOING THEIR JOB!! Why should the paid professional get anything extra for doing what they are sworn to do?
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Vancouver BC Canada : 9:26 PM ET
You have got to be kidding!!
I'm so angry now--I have no
words to explain how I feel--
These men are underpaid to be-
gin with..and they DO SO MUCH
for everyone..and they get a
PIN!! What a slap in the face!!
Shame on who ever was in charge
of this farce..get rid of him or
her!! They need to do community
service--Big Time!!Thank You,
Posted By Anonymous Spindale, North Carolina : 9:29 PM ET
I guess the point is that they are getting recognition for going above and beyond...the reality is that this is probably all the city officials can offer up. Based on the current situation a pin is most likely "pathetic",but then again what would you call the response to Katrina?
Posted By Anonymous Alexandria, Huntington Beach, CA : 9:32 PM ET
Wake up people! The city of New Orleans is BROKE. I am sure the City of would love to give them more than simply a pin for their efforts. What most people fail to realize is the city is lucky enough to have the funds to pay our brave NOPD officers'salaries. These men and women do indeed deserve more than a pin for their gallant efforts, but at this time of hardship I know they appreciate the small token and wear it with great pride. Thank you NOPD!!
Posted By Anonymous Katie, New Orleans, LA : 9:34 PM ET
WOW! I guess they took the phrase "token of appreciation" literally. I pray that these are God-fearing Christian men, for they will know that their reward is laid up in heaven. Their self-sacrifice did not escape God's attention. Frankly, though, we have heroes come home from war missing limbs and they're awarded just a medal, but with a little more pomp and circumstance. My heart goes out to those affected by Katrina, and I thank God that there WERE men such as these who stepped up to the plate when the real test came. Each of them truly are American heroes.
Posted By Anonymous Carl, Kingsland, GA : 9:34 PM ET
I glad they got a pin. Look at the Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines fighting in Iraq. WHAT DO THEY RECEIVE? Nothing people in the U.S want to protest and treat them differently when they arrive. So the cops did receive something for their effort.
Posted By Anonymous John, Dongducheon, S. Korea : 9:39 PM ET
Those law enforcement officers went far beyond the call of duty, and all they get is a pin for their efforts? Most of those pins were probably thrown into the trash as the officers left the building to head back to the streets. And people wonder why there is a looming shortage of police officers nationwide....
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Elizabeth, IL : 9:40 PM ET
A pin? That's all? You've got to be kidding. These heroes didn't do it for money or wealth, they did what had to be done to save people, yet all the state of Louisianna can think of to thank them is a pin? Doesn't that diminish the value of their heroism? I bet the victims could come up with a better idea. I find it embarassing!
Posted By Anonymous Denise Roberts, Newport RI : 9:44 PM ET
A Pin? Some of these men deserve the civilian equivalent of the Medal of Honor. They gave so much and now they are receiving so little.
Posted By Anonymous Berry, Rochester, MN : 9:45 PM ET
A pin commemorating their sacrifice is a nice momento. It's interesting to me that after 9/11, celebrities hosted telethons, people came out in droves to help and give money, charity concerts were held for the surviving police and firemen. I'm wondering, did I miss the telethon and concert for New Orleans's officers who didn't abandon their posts during those awful days following the hurricane?
Posted By Anonymous Traci - Yorktown, VA : 9:49 PM ET
Sadly, not all those who were there getting pins were actually here, and of those who were, many hid in stations or hotels and did nothing.
And all were ORDERED to go, off duty, without pay, to receive a pin most will throw away or never wear because it means nothing because everyone is getting one.
Posted By Anonymous Andy Whitaker, New Orleans LA : 2:20 AM ET
Thank you all for your kind words and support. Our department has had a bad rap with the media throughout Katrina. Im glad to know that the countries perception of NOPD is not bad. As far as the pin, it may seem like a little, but for those of us that stayed it means a lot. The pin represents everything we went through together. The officers in my district worked together, cried together, and supported each other... we were all each other had. It was almost 2 weeks before I was able to get out on a phone and call my family and tell them I was alive... the only thing that kept my sanity was my coworkers being there for me. I am proud to wear the same pin as the other officers in my district. The monetary value may be only a couple of dollars, but the real value of it is priceless.
Posted By Anonymous Matt- New Orleans Police Officer : 2:21 AM ET
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