FRONTLINE: Law And Disorder
Airs Friday, November 19, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, August 30, 2010
Behind the enduring images of heroic rescues undertaken by the New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there is another story of law enforcement in crisis, even out of control. “Law & Disorder,” a year-long, ongoing collaboration among FRONTLINE, ProPublica and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, investigates charges that NOPD officers inappropriately used lethal force against New Orleans citizens and then tried to cover up their actions.
"What happened here in the days after Katrina would call into question whether the mayor and others helped create a climate in which the police felt justified in taking extreme measures to regain control over the city, ultimately setting this chain of events in motion that has completely turned the New Orleans Police Department upside down," says correspondent and ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson, whose initial investigation of Henry Glover's death sparked the federal probe back in late 2008.
"Law And Disorder" reveals that, in the midst of post-Katrina chaos, law-enforcement commanders issued orders to ignore long-established rules governing use of deadly force. FRONTLINE reports that in one instance an NOPD captain told a group of officers: "We have authority by martial law to shoot looters."
The order suggests a line was drawn from New Orleans' top officials to officers in the field. Could stealing food, water or a TV now mean a death sentence? FRONTLINE takes a fresh look at how the NOPD performed when the rules of civilized society collapsed.