Every week WWNO's Listening Post project asks questions about local news in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and reports back on the community's response. This week's topic is emergency response time in Orleans Parish.
In March, more than one in 10 calls to 911 went unanswered within 40 seconds.
Charles Maldonado is a reporter for The Lens who has investigated recent staffing issues at the Orleans parish 911 call center.
“The city’s 911 operators are not answering calls up to national standards. They’re not answering calls in 20 seconds or less. There are 36 of them as of March, meaning 13 people on at any given time," Maldonado says.
The police department says it has funding to hire 19 more people for its call center, but it takes a few months to train them. Not to mention the issue of having enough of its own officers to respond to emergencies.
We asked our Listening Post community:
- Have you ever called 911 in New Orleans?
- What was your emergency?
- How long did it take for the police to respond/arrive?
- How was the situation resolved?
We also talked to Sam Houdek from the Austin, Texas-based band Growl.
Last August, Growl played a show in New Orleans. They headed back to their truck around 1 a.m., just in time to see the vehicle driving off... without them.
“It was kind of a surreal moment,” Houdek says.
The band called 911 and filed a report.
“I had assumed in the next few minutes that an officer would show up to the scene,” he says. "I guess we placed the call close to 2 a.m. and didn’t make it to the police station until 8 in the morning.”
Houdek says his bandmates called 911 seven times. Eventually they ran into an officer out on another case. He gave them a ride to an impound lot to check for the vehicle. On the way he told the band about the understaffing struggles in the department.
"It was kind of insider look. It seemed like a pretty bleak situation for him as an officer," Houdek says.
There’s been no follow up from NOPD about the case. But he says despite the trouble, his band will play New Orleans again.
Next week we're asking what YOU want to hear from future Listening Post segments. It's your turn to make a few suggestions about what we should investigate. To join the conversation text the word "hello" or call 504-224-5314.
Hit us up! We'll see you at the Listening Post.