Public duty
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A Cop’s Story

PUBLIC DUTY: Patrick Hartman, a New Orleans police officer, smashes a window with a club in a search for Katrina’s survivors or victims. After the storm hit, “We spent the day stealing boats, rescuing people,” Hartman said. (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
PRIVATE ANGUISH: Hartman felt guilty for breaking into a house to escape floodwaters. Asked why he began rescuing others when he himself had barely made it, he said, “It’s easier to save other people than to save yourself.” (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
LIFE ON THE EDGE: Hartman creeps along a windowsill to get inside a flooded home. “Pat doesn’t say much, but he gets the job done right,” says a coworker. (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
IN THE BALANCE: Last weekend, Hartman was told to take five days off. He caught a ride to the solid brick home of his mom, Cheryl. She thought he looked awful. “His feet look like he’s got jungle rot from Vietnam,” she said. (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
NOTED: Hartman was first able to reach his mom the Friday after the storm; she marked her calendar. “I thought he was dead, I really did,” she said later. (Robert Gauthier / LAT)
THE LONG WAY HOME: Patrick Hartman, a New Orleans police officer, at the edge of receding floodwaters in his Lakeview neighborhood. After Hurricane Katrina hit, his trials were the trials of an entire city. He was left bereft and homeless, but he persevered. (Robert Gauthier / LAT)