The New Orleans police have dispatched teams to prevent looting in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which left more than a million state residents without electricity and prompted a string of opportunistic thefts across the city.
While New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell insisted during a Monday press conference that there is “no widespread looting” in the Big Easy, the city’s police force nonetheless declared that it had deployed “anti-looting” teams in conjunction with the Louisiana National Guard to ensure that no thefts take place.
“We have implemented our anti-looting plan, which is a partnership with our Louisiana National Guard, as well as our Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, to discourage those who wish to commit any looting crimes, but also identify, locate and arrest those who commit looting crimes,” police superintendent Shaun Ferguson said in a video address.
Looting will NOT be tolerated and encourage everyone to be good neighbors and say something when you see something.
#NOPD has deployed anti-looting teams across the city in order to protect our citizens’ property as we continue the recovery process. Looting will NOT be tolerated and encourage everyone to be good neighbors and say something when you see something. pic.twitter.com/ANoBZk4GTv
— NOPD (@NOPDNews) August 30, 2021
Ferguson also urged all residents to stay at home during the night hours, saying “There’s absolutely no reason for anyone to be on the streets of the city of New Orleans during the nightfall.” He added that officers have been ordered to “engage” anyone seen out at night and “actively encourage them” to go home.
An anti-looting squad on patrol was seen in action in footage circulating online, with officers going door-to-door to ensure businesses are locked and secure.
Other footage appeared to show at least one looting in progress, while images from a pilfered dollar store captured cartloads of merchandise hastily left at the scene after authorities arrived.
Though Mayor Cantrell disputed that looting was “widespread,” she also vowed to take a zero-tolerance approach toward thieves.
“My directive has been very clear: Lock ’em up,” she told a press conference. “We will not tolerate it and we have not tolerated it. So we have apprehended those individuals associated with the looting that we have been able to identify.”
The city was plunged into darkness after the category 4 Hurricane Ida slammed into the Gulf Coast on Sunday, bringing 150mph winds and surges of water that reached 16 feet high.
“Catastrophic” damage, in the words of New Orleans officials, resulted in major power outages, leaving more than 181,000 people without electricity in the Orleans parish as of Monday night and in excess of one million across the state as a whole, according to outage tracker PowerOutage.us. The damage to infrastructure could leave parts of Louisiana without power for up to a month, electricity supplier Entergy said after an assessment on Monday.
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