When you’re faced with an emergency situation, there’s a high chance that you’re going to pick up the phone and dial 911. And when you do, you’re expecting a fast response. In fact, most callers expect the individual on the other end to handle the call with precision and efficiency to get them the help they need, when and where they need it most. After all, that is their job, right? This is especially true in cases of domestic violence where you expect law enforcement personnel to arrive at the scene of the dispute in a timely fashion. Too much lag time may result in possible suspects evading the police, and possible victims leaving the scene or deciding not to speak with law enforcement. Time is of the essence.
Delay in Response
Unfortunately, in New Orleans, this is not always the case. For the past five years, the New Orleans Police Department has been under scrutiny for slow response times to domestic violence calls. In May 2011, the average response time to domestic violence calls was 51 minutes. In February 2016, that timeframe increased to 1 hour and 41 minutes. That’s almost two hours from the time of the call to the police officer’s arrival. What do these slow response times say to citizens? First and foremost, it makes the NOPD appear unconcerned about the safety of the victims. Violence can escalate at a moment’s notice, and anything can happen in two hours. But, as we dig deeper into the issue, it becomes apparent that response times have more to do with severe short staffing than they do with a lack of concern. The department cites manpower issues as one of the leading reasons behind slow response times. With too few officers, calls simply cannot be addressed as quickly as they ought to be. The issue for many is that this understaffing problem has gone on for far too long.
Hope for the Future
Tyler Gamble, a police department representative, explained Police Superintendent Michael Harrison’s plans for department improvement. “In addition to updating procedures for case documentation, Superintendent Harrison intends to increase the number of police on the streets in hopes that greater officer presence will bring down the amount of time it takes for calls to be addressed. He is also enforcing more re-trainings and disciplinary action for officers who do not behave professionally, or follow the appropriate protocol when they arrive on the scene,” said Gamble. Although it may seem that the NOPD is far from reaching its goals of decreased wait time for domestic violence disputes, they have done it before. In recent years, the Sex Crimes Unit underwent similar improvements, resulting in huge improvements in the speed and quality of officer response. We hope that the planned changes in procedures will bring about a similar result for the Domestic Violence Unit.
Contact a New Orleans Disturbing the Peace Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in an incident of domestic violence, contact us for an initial consultation regarding your rights.