Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On the side of caution?

Eddie Compass, who was superintendent of the New Orleans police during Hurricane Katrina admits that he repeated unconfirmed reports of out-of-control crime, which turned out not to be true. The reports significantly hampered rescue efforts. Here's what struck me, though:
There was really no way for me to check definitively. So instead I erred on the side of caution. I didn't want people to think we were trying to cover anything up. So I repeated these things without being substantiated, and it caused a lot of problems.
Excuse me, how was the error on the side of caution? It seems to me like erring on the side of recklessness! If you're not sure whether a report is true, what good is done by repeating it? What harm would be done by keeping it quiet until it can be confirmed?

But then, I'm thinking of it from the perspective of minimising harm to the city's people, caught in the aftermath and desperately waiting for help. I suppose that's rather naïve. Compass's concern was that he not be accused afterwards of covering anything up; in other words, he was being cautious for his own political future, while reckless with the safety of the city. And apparently he's so unconscious of the distinction that he actually makes this point in his defense!

(H/T: The Anchoress by way of Instapundit)

1 Comments:

Blogger Murray said...

"Ok so like my police force was going to pieces so fast people were getting hit by schrapnel so I decided to err on the side of being hysterical... because that would really help the situation"

Why are people paying for this person to do what he does?

Thu Aug 24, 02:22:00 PM 2006  

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