Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Reefer Rodents: Marijuana-Munching Rats Get ‘High’ in New Orleans Police HQ

HomeU.S.Reefer Rodents: Marijuana-Munching Rats Get 'High' in New Orleans Police HQ

NEW ORLEANS – The party never stops in the Big Easy, not even for the rats. According to the city’s police superintendent, the headquarters has become ground zero for a marijuana-munching rat infestation that has the rodents getting “high” off confiscated cannabis evidence.

“The rats are eating our marijuana. They’re all high,” Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick bluntly stated during a Criminal Justice Committee meeting this week.

Her candid admission provided a glimpse into the decrepit conditions facing the New Orleans Police Department at their dilapidated headquarters building. Beyond the weed-loving rats, Kirkpatrick described a litany of other unacceptable issues including cockroach infestations, rampant mold, lack of air conditioning, and malfunctioning elevators and bathrooms.

“When we say we value our employees, you can’t say that and at the same time allow people to work in conditions that are not acceptable,” the exasperated superintendent told council members.

The building’s abhorrent state has become a glaring embarrassment for a department already struggling with low morale and staffing shortages in the years following 2020’s “Defund the Police” movement. Officers frequently arrive to find rat droppings scattered across their desks, according to Kirkpatrick.

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“Where you work, where you live is not appropriate, it’s going to impact morale, so that has been a big factor,” she said of the hardships created by the crumbling, vermin-infested headquarters.

The developments paint a striking contrast to the festive images of New Orleans welcoming hordes of free-spirited revelers just weeks ago for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. While tourists flocked to experience the city’s renowned food, music and party culture, the police charged with keeping an eye on the revelry have been forced to work in squalid conditions behind the scenes.

News of the department’s weed-blazed rat scourge immediately sparked amusement and incredulity across social media as images of Cheech and Chong-inspired rodents went viral. To the internet’s delight, it also reinforced New Orleans’ reputation as a famous party town where anything goes, even for the local urban wildlife.

“Only in New Orleans would the rats be getting high off leftover weed,” tweeted @CajunCubsFan, exemplifying the internet’s bemused reaction.

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But for the NOPD, the situation is indicative of serious challenges plaguing the force as it tries to regain its footing and bolster staffing levels after losing hundreds of officers amid the racial justice protests and budget cuts of 2020. Low pay, poor working conditions, and a skyrocketing violent crime rate have taken their toll on police morale and recruitment.

“The unfortunate part is we’ve had some people leave because they don’t want to have to deal with the current conditions,” Donovan Livacoat, the department’s chief of operations, told WWL News. “We have people leaving. We have a hard time hiring.”

With the police force already hovering around 50% of its target staffing levels, the rat-infested, mold-riddled headquarters has only exacerbated existing struggles to attract and retain quality officers. Leaders realize drastic action is needed.

On Monday, city officials hashed out a plan to relocate the department across the street into the former Charity Hospital building on a 10-year lease while a permanent new headquarters is explored. The temporary move still requires final approval from the city council.

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We are going to continue to identify properties so we can move NOPD out of that dilapidated building into a newer building that is suitable for the officers and the employees to work in and for us to effectively stand up a new police headquarters for the city of New Orleans,” assured Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Infrastructure Ramsey Green.

It’s a high priority for a city that is world-famous for its convivial spirit and lively celebrations like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and others. Having a modern, respectable police force is essential, both for hosting marquee events and addressing chronically high crime rates.

“We’re in desperate need of a new facility,” Chief Livacoat said. “The ceiling’s leaking. The floors are nasty. The building’s been condemned twice before.”

Indeed, the rat-infested police bunker seems to perfectly encapsulate the stark dichotomy between New Orleans‘ public party image and the harsh realities lurking behind the scenes – realities the reefer-addicted rodents may just be trying to escape, if only for a little while.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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