Residents who called the New Orleans Police Department through September of this year had to wait an average 73 minutes for police to dispatch an officer their way, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. That’s nearly four times as long as it took in 2011, when the average dispatch time was 15 minutes, according to an analysis of police calls for service by the Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 News. In some parts of the city, the average wait can top two hours, the data show. Algiers residents saw the lowest average dispatch time, a still-long 36 minutes.
The dispatch wait time is worse for non-violent crimes. Calls for burglaries have waited more than four hours on average this year. Homicides and armed robberies, on the other hand, get an officer dispatched on average after 8 and 19 minutes, respectively. “I knew that when I accepted this position, that response times were not where they should be (and) not nearly where we want them to be,” Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said Monday. “It’s unacceptable.” Harrison and some police officers blame mostly staffing shortages and increased paperwork and procedures mandated by the department’s federal consent decree. “If people don’t feel the police department is going to be there, they’ll stop calling,” said Nahanni Pollard, a criminologist and faculty member at Douglas College in British Columbia. “It has the potential to allow crime to start. If you think police are not going to come, or they won’t be there in three or four hours, that police deterrent will be eroded.”