When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States in 2005, there were many individuals whose lives were destroyed. The resulting flooding in New Orleans also left many without homes, food, water, and employment. Even those in positions of authority were left without means of communication, and in some cases, these individuals committed acts completely against their codes of ethics. This paper will discuss one set of individuals in power exclusively, those of the police officers of New Orleans, and will focus on the ethical dilemmas that stemmed from the acts of looting which occurred at the hands of some of those officers.
To fully understand the situation in New Orleans, one must first understand the issues underlying ethical dilemmas. These dilemmas can stem from a variety of sources, including a conflict between personal and professional values, between two principles, between two actions, each with strong positive aspects as well as strong negative aspects, and between ones' perceived values and one's personal values (Walters, 41).
Additionally, it is important to distinguish between three types of "looting": those acts done for personal gain, those done for necessity in the line of duty, and those in between. In one incident, police officers were seen breaking into a car dealership, and taking eight to ten vehicles without permission. As New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley noted in the CNN report "New Orleans cops investigated for allegedly stealing cars", if those vehicles were used in place of stalled patrol cars due to flooding, that act would not be considered looting, since the act would be to obtain a means of transportation in the line of duty (CNN, online).
However, other officers, such as those reportedly involved in looting at the Amerihost Inn and Suites, were not carrying out essential job functions. According to the CNN report "Witnesses" the hotel owner, Osman Khan, informed police officials that eight officers staying at the hotel were involved in the looting of houses and businesses around the hotel.