On March 16, Terri Bice of New Orleans and her family were woken up at 2 AM, when they heard their dog Molly barking and someone trying to break into theirhome through the front door. Bice immediately made a call to 911, but as WWL Eyewitness News reports, that didn’t wind up being too useful.
As it would turn out, Molly’s barking scared off the would-be burglar, who probably left to escape being seen. However, feeling reassured they would be ok quickly evapatored when calls to 911 were unanswered. Bice took note of her calls. She made two to 911 and didn’t get an answer. She then called New Orleans Police Department’s (NOPD) non-emergency line twice and, again, wound up getting no answer. It wasn’t until she made a call to NOPD’s Second District that she finally got an answer. That wasn’t the end of it, though. Bice and her family had to wait nearly two hours before an officer came to their home.
So why the lack of response? It appears to be a staffing issue. WWL reports that along with a reduction of NOPD officers on the street, the Orleans Parish Communication District only has 36 call-takers, less than half of what has been recommended. New Orleans Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who knows what happened to Bice, told the station that a committee meeting already planned will be discussing the staffing woes. Deputy Mayor Jerry Sneed issued a statement:
"It is a priority for our residents to feel that their concerns will be addressed when calling 9-1-1. All of the city's public safety agencies are working to significantly increase operator staffing, reduce non-emergency call volume, and improve call center management performance."
NOPD spokesperson Remi Braden issued a statement as well:
"No one feels worse arriving late to help residents than our officers. We apologize for the wait time on this call. The NOPD remains focused on hiring quality, professional recruits to better serve our residents and visitors."
As for Ms. Bice, she has programmed more emergency phone numbers into her phone and now owns a gun – something she hopes she’ll never have to use.
More info: WWL