October 14, 2005

CORRECTED: Agencies no longer back up N.O. police

In October 13 NEW ORLEANS story headlined "US agencies no
longer backing up N.Orleans police" please read in paragraph 3
... James Bernazzani, special agent in charge of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation's New Orleans office ... instead of ...
special agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration ... as listed in October 13 Federal Emergency
Management Agency press release.

A corrected story follows.

By Nichola Groom

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Federal law enforcement agents have
stopped reinforcing New Orleans police but the move reflects no
relaxation of crime fighting in a city still reeling from
Hurricane Katrina, officials said on Thursday.

The Law Enforcement Coordinating Cell, or LECC, a coalition
of federal agencies and local police charged with restoring
order in New Orleans after Katrina ravaged the city on August
29, was dismantled this week, U.S. authorities said.

"Even though the LECC has ceased to exist, that does not
mean that federal support of state and local law enforcement
has ceased to exist," James Bernazzani, special agent in charge
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New Orleans office,
told a news conference in Baton Rouge.

U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Jim Letten said the DEA, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Immigration and Customs
Enforcement would "continue to have a powerful presence in and
around the New Orleans area."

He added those agencies were returning to their traditional

In the days immediately after the hurricane, federal
agencies were called in to support the New Orleans police force
after its numbers dwindled by an estimated 10 percent because
officers did not show up for work.

The department was widely criticized for failing to control
lawlessness after Katrina struck, and some officers are under
investigation for looting, including the theft of nearly 200
cars from a local dealership.

New Orleans police came under fire again this week after
three officers were videotaped beating a 64-year-old man and
roughing up a journalist. All three have pleaded not guilty to
charges connected to the incident.

The finger-pointing has extended to federal officials. An
attorney for the officers, Frank DeSalvo, said on Wednesday the
man's facial injuries occurred when he was pushed to the ground
by two FBI agents.