On the same day last week when two former police officers received lengthy sentences in the Henry Glover case, one for 25 years and the other for 17, the New Orleans Police Department staged an event to announce the appointment of 16 new “Police Commanders.” The appointments were part of the police chief’s efforts to streamline leadership and make it more accountable.

I am not sure if the announcements were purposely timed to coincide with the sentencing, but the two stories – one tragic, one upbeat – are related.

To shoot at Henry Glover, even if he was assumed to be a post-Katrina looter, was outrageous; to burn the body was macabre and insane. The jury did not buy the “Katrina defense” that the officers were acting out of stress; nevertheless, circumstances were clearly a factor. Henry Glover would be alive today, and several police officers’ lives would not be ruined (Perhaps instead they would be recognized as first responder heroes) had there not been a breakdown of leadership in the police department. Within a police agency that, at the time, was top-heavy with brass, there should have been someone responsible to say, “Don’t do it.” Even if there were no bosses around, the cops should have had enough respect for authority to be disciplined. They failed. The department failed.

I wish the new police chief the best with his system of 16 police commanders who are supposed to be the third tier of leadership beneath the chief and four deputy chiefs. They will be the ones on the battlefront. May they never fail the citizens, nor the officers in their command.

Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival – Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via email at gdkrewe@aol.com or (504) 895-2266.