The New Orleans police chief says 249 officers left their posts without permission during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
That's nearly 15 percent of the force.
Police Superintendent Eddie Compass is organizing a tribunal of four assistant chiefs to hear each case. The plan is to differentiate deserters from those with a legitimate reason for not showing up.
The president of the union that represents the rank-and-file officers has said true deserters should be fired. He tells The Times-Picayune Newspaper that those who left because of cowardice don't need to be on the staff, and he says that's a small fraction of the group.
Officials say some of those 249 officers lost their homes, some were looking for family, and some just couldn't deal with the catastrophe.