New Orleans Police Say Rats Are Eating Weed Stored in Evidence Room

New Orleans Police Say Rats Are Eating Weed Stored in Evidence Room

Police officials in New Orleans this week told a city council committee that rats have taken over the department’s downtown headquarters, saying that the rodents have been eating marijuana stored in an evidence room. Anne Kirkpatrick, the superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, told the city leaders at a meeting on Monday that the rats are apparently enjoying the food source sitting in an evidence room at police headquarters.

“The rats are eating our marijuana,” Kirkpatrick said, according to a report from online news source “They’re all high.”

The superintendent was reporting to the council committee on the condition of aging police facilities around New Orleans. In addition to eating drugs in the evidence room, rats are reportedly found throughout the building, spreading feces across the desks of police officers and other department workers. The building is also infested with cockroaches, Kirkpatrick reported.

The department’s problems at police headquarters are not limited to pests. The building also has mold and elevators, HVAC equipment and plumbing that are old and deteriorating. 

An NOPD veteran speaking to a reporter anonymously said that the downtown police headquarters has been infested with rats throughout his almost two decades with the department. He also noted that some officers report coughing or sneezing after visiting the moldy building, which has served the police department since 1968.

“It’s horrible. I don’t think it ever recovered from Katrina, to be honest,” the officer said, referring to the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans. “The basement was full (of flood water). You get a lot of rodents that climb through the walls. Some things you just can’t get to, so there has always been some type of rodent, bugs, rats, mice, whatever.”

The police department has been asking for a new headquarters since before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the department asked for $39 million to build a new base of operations, but the project was not funded by the city council. 

Kirkpatrick, who took over as superintendent in October after moving to New Orleans from the West Coast, renewed the push for a new department headquarters, a source told Kirkpatrick was “adamant” about a new facility for the department’s officers and staff of 400 who work at the aging building. 

At Monday’s meeting, Kirkpatrick described the building as a “turn-off” to prospective employee transfers from other areas as well as the personnel that already work there.

“It’s not OK, and it’s not OK for people to be treated that way and be called valued,” she said.

The superintendent also noted that the poor condition of police facilities goes beyond the department’s downtown home.

“It is not just at police headquarters. It is all the districts. The uncleanliness is off the charts,” Kirkpatrick told the council members on the committee. “The janitorial cleaning [team] deserves an award, trying to clean what is uncleanable.”

Kirkpatrick was at the meeting to ask for the committee’s approval of a proposal to house the department on two floors of a new high-rise in downtown New Orleans for 10 years while a plan for a permanent facility is developed. The committee approved a motion to authorize the move, sending the plan to the full council for a vote.

Gilbert Montaño, the city’s chief administrative officer, described the headquarters move as a “Herculean lift.” Once the headquarters has been temporarily relocated, additional buildings in the downtown justice complex will also be vacated.

“I foresee most of the criminal justice agencies will have to be temporarily housed as we address these old decrepit buildings,” said Montaño, according to a report from The Guardian.

“Right now, we are addressing police headquarters because it is in dire straits.”

The problem with rodents eating weed being stored as police evidence is not new. In addition to the report from New Orleans, police departments in South America and Asia have reported similar stories of hungry rodents fiending on pot, The Guardian noted.

In 2018, the outlet reported that eight police officers in Argentina were fired after they reported that mice had eaten nearly 1,000 pounds of pot that had disappeared from a police warehouse about 35 miles away from Buenos Aires. 

“Buenos Aires University experts have explained that mice wouldn’t mistake the drug for food, and that if a large group of mice had eaten it, a lot of corpses would have been found in the warehouse,” a spokesperson for a judge who was reviewing the case said at the time.

Four years later, CNN reported a story from northern India, where rats had allegedly eaten more than 1,100 pounds of weed that had been seized from pot dealers and stored in a police warehouse.

“Rats are small animals, and they aren’t scared of the police,” an official told a court in Uttar Pradesh.

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