The suicide of a policeman who could not endure his city's fate

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His body was found on Saturday in an unmarked patrol car. Sgt Accardo, 36, was a chief spokesman for the department, a familiar face on the nightly news in New Orleans.

He was one of two city policemen who committed suicide last week. His boss, Captain Marlon Defillo, thinks he may have killed himself because he lost hope that order would ever be restored. Losing his home in the floodwaters, unable to stop the suffering and impending anarchy, he may have sank into depression.

A public information officer, Captain Defillo said, turns the senseless - murder, rape, mayhem - into something orderly for the public. "It's like dominoes scattered across a table and putting them in order."

Captain Defillo recalled how bad Sgt Accardo felt when he was unable to help women stranded on the interstate and pleading for water and food. One woman said her baby had not had water in three days.

Officials said that between 400 and 500 police officers were unaccounted for, many are thought to be tending to their homes or looking for their families.