Rats Get High by Eating Marijuana Evidence Stored at New Orleans Police Headquarters

2024-03-15 14:00:39

I recently had a chance to visit New Orleans. And while the city was fun, I missed seeing its latest attraction — rats who are buzzed after eating marijuana evidence at the city’s police headquarters.

Rats have infiltrated the New Orleans Police Department’s deteriorating headquarters, breaking into the evidence room and getting “high” on marijuana, a police official said this week.

“The rats are eating our marijuana. They’re all high,” Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department Anne Kirkpatrick told council members Monday at a Criminal Justice Committee meeting, according to WWL Louisiana.

Joining the rats, the building is also home to a cockroach infestation, mold, no air conditioning, and elevators and bathrooms that don’t function properly, the superintendent added.

Kirkpatrick’s comments come just weeks after New Orleans, considered one of America’s top tourist and party cities, welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors for Mardi Gras.

New Orleans police have occupied these headquarters since 1968. The infestations are pretty severe, as there are reports of officers finding rat droppings on their desks.

City officials are taking steps to move the department to a new space. That’s been a priority of the police chief since she took office in October.

The chief said her 910 officers come to work to find air-conditioning and elevators broken. She told council members the conditions are demoralizing to staff and a turnoff to potential recruits coming for interviews.

“The uncleanliness is off the charts,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that it’s no fault of the department’s janitorial staff. “They deserve an award for trying to clean what is uncleanable.”

While the situation may seem humorous, there are significant public health consequences for rat infestations that are not resolved. For example, we recently reported on a fatal case of bubonic plague in New Mexico (rodents and their fleas are carriers of the disease-causing bacteria).

Back in 2019, we reported that the Los Angeles police department had officers falling ill with typhoid linked to the explosion in the rat population within the region (and associated with homeless camps).

The I-Team has been exposing uncollected filth, an exploding rat population and fears of a new typhus outbreak in downtown Los Angeles, with an LAPD officer working downtown possibly the latest victim of the disease.

A spokesman for the LAPD confirmed to the I-Team that an officer stationed at Central Division has typhus-like symptoms but has not yet been diagnosed with the disease. Typhus can be spread by infected fleas that live on rats that have been linked to growing homeless encampments.

The disease can cause fever, chills, vomiting and confusion.

It appears New Orleans Police Chief Kirkpatrick, a West Coast transplant, may have paid attention to the 2019 reports. When she transferred, she was adamant about getting a new headquarters.

One NOPD veteran, speaking anonymously, said the headquarters building has been infested with vermin for his nearly two decades on the force, and that it’s not unusual for officers to develop a sneeze or cough after a visit to the moldy building.

“It’s horrible. I don’t think it ever recovered from Katrina, to be honest,” he said. “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.”

Kirkpatrick suggested her outsider perspective helped her see the age-old problem and “extreme disrepair” with fresh eyes.

Here’s hoping New Orleans addresses the rat infestation before my next visit. I also hope that city and state leaders around the country begin to appreciate the serious public health threats posed by ever-increasing rat populations within our urban centers.


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