NEW ORLEANS—The average amount of time it takes for an NOPD officer to respond to an emergency call for service has been reduced by more than 40 percent over the past four months, according to a review of emergency calls for service data. The numbers show the department has reduced response times to emergency calls from an average of 20 minutes in October 2015 to an average of 11 minutes in February 2016. NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison attributes the significant reduction in response times to stronger management and accountability systems put in place last fall.
Watch Video: Chief Harrison touts significant reduction in emergency response times
“Rebuilding the public’s confidence in our ability to respond quickly to emergencies when they need us is my top priority, and we are doing everything we can to make that happen,” said Chief Harrison. “Last fall, we rolled out smarter deployment strategies to cut down on call-waiting times during shift changes and built a better management system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for their performance in the field. To increase our presence on the street, last month, we redeployed officers working in non-essential positions to neighborhood patrol and we are continuing to aggressively recruit and hire new officers to grow the department. Early results show are strategy is working, but we have a lot more work to do to reach our goals.”
Data from NOPD calls for service are publicly available on the City’s open data website.
Creating a smarter and more efficient deployment strategy was the first step toward improving response times. Last November, Chief Harrison directed all eight police districts to adjust staffing deployment from three shifts per day to five shifts per day to ensure there were no delays in service due to shift changes. That move had an immediate impact on the number of calls that were holding for long periods of time between shift changes.
In order to effectively monitor and manage response times in the field on a consistent basis, Chief Harrison now requires each district commander to review, investigate and provide explanations for any call for service that received a delayed response on a weekly basis and report out in the public COMSTAT meeting.
Over the next few months, the department plans to utilize new technology that will create even more efficiency in the field and reduce response times. An on-line reporting system is being built to allow residents and visitors to report non-violent property crimes via the web. The NOPD is also moving toward electronic warrants to allow officers to obtain warrants via the web rather than having to physically leave the scene of an incident.
Growing the force remains key to improving overall response times
Putting more officers on the street remains the key to improving overall response times citywide. In fact, according to a recent review performed by a staffing consultant, putting an additional 94 officers on patrol, will allow the NOPD to respond to 90 percent of all emergency calls for service within 7 minutes. Last month, the NOPD added 54 more officers to neighborhood patrol to respond to calls for service. The additional manpower on the street is the first phase of a major redeployment effort within the department that aims to increase police presence and reduce violent crime in neighborhoods across the city. The second phase of the redeployment effort will add more officers to patrol as soon as their civilian replacements are hired, which is expected to happen by the end of the first quarter of this year.
At the same time, the department is working aggressively to recruit, hire and train more officers to grow the department. Right now, a total of 58 recruits are in training at the NOPD Training Academy, with 29 of them expected to graduate at the end of April. Another recruit class is expected to launch in early May.
The department has a plan to grow to 1,600 officers and for the first time in several years, the NOPD is hiring more officers than it has lost through attrition by the end of the year. Four recruit classes were launched in 2015, bringing the total to eight classes since 2010. At the current rate, significant new funding will be needed to continue to hire new officers starting with the 2017 budget. If approved, funds raised from a proposed public safety millage on the April 9th ballot will be dedicated solely to recruiting, hiring, equipping and paying for additional police officers.