updated 10/31/2005 7:52:55 AM ET 2005-10-31T12:52:55

Fifty-one members of the New Orleans Police Department — 45 officers and six civilian employees — were fired Friday for abandoning their posts before or after Hurricane Katrina.

“They were terminated due to them abandoning the department prior to the storm,” acting superintendent Warren Riley said. “They either left before the hurricane or 10 to 12 days after the storm, and we have never heard from them.”

Police were unable to account for 240 officers on the 1,450-member force following Katrina. The force has been investigating them to see if they left their posts during the storm.

The mass firing was the first action taken against the missing officers. Fifteen other officers resigned when placed under investigation for abandonment.

“This isn’t representative of our department,” Riley said. “We had a lot of heroes that stepped up after the storm.”

Another 45 officers have resigned from the force since the Aug. 29 storm. The resignations were for personal reasons ranging from relocation to new employment, Riley said.

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