By Natasha Robin | WVUE | August 30, 2022
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The New Orleans Police Department’s average response time is getting worse as the department continues to face a critical manpower shortage.
“The average is roughly 30 minutes, but if you’re in some districts, it’s like 40 or 50 minutes,” says Council President Helena Moreno.
Long response times have a direct impact on the crime victims waiting for help. On top of that, the city council is now learning that an increasing number of 911 emergency calls are getting downgraded to non-emergencies, likely making the response times even longer.
“Now, the time could be hours or potentially the next day. That’s incredibly concerning,” says Moreno.
Moreno says that survivors are often no longer on the scene when officers arrive to calls for service.
According to the council’s crime analyst Jeff Asher, 95 aggravated rape calls were downgraded this year, along with 74 armed robberies, 252 aggravated assaults, and nearly 1,500 domestic disturbances.
“It’s not surprising, and it’s unacceptable,” says Rafael Goyeneche, with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Goyeneche believes the long response times and downgrading of emergency calls are in part a result of a police department that doesn’t have the manpower to keep up.
“Nobody is more upset about the numbers we’re reporting from the city council than police officers,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says with no quick fix, there has to be an alternative solution.
“I think we’re going to have to civilianize some of this, and there are going to be some crime victims who may not get a police officer responding to them,” says Goyeneche.
“That’s why I have continuously called for additional professionals to be brought into the NOPD, so they can assist,” says Moreno.
It’s something Chief Shaun Ferguson says he too believes needs to be done.
“We have a committee together to look at our calls for service because, at some point, we have to make a decision. Does every call require an in-person response? I just don’t think we are there anymore,” says Chief Ferguson.