NEW ORLEANS – Police have been out in full force during the 12-day ramp-up to the big Mardi Gras celebration.

Now, many of those officers are taking some well-earned time off. That leaves fewer officers than normal on duty to respond to calls for service.

WWL-TV crime analyst Jeff Asher looked at the NOPD's response time for the past five years on the days immediately following Fat Tuesday. He claimed the numbers show there is a significant spike, beginning on Ash Wednesday.

"We're really at some of the longest response times of the year," Asher said. "The average response time is typically going to be a little over an hour, averaged out the entire year. Today and tomorrow, it might be closer to two hours, so you're looking at about double."

Donovan Livaccari from the New Orleans Fraternal Order of Police is not surprised by Asher's findings. He said every NOPD officer is required to work the four day Mardi Gras weekend and that leaves only four days left in the week for all the officers to take the required two days off.

"By the time you have all those folks taking their two days off and when you consider the manpower crunch that we are still in the middle of, that provides a significant strain on resources," Livaccari said.

Livaccari suggests the NOPD allow officers who want the overtime to work additional shifts to help offset the manpower shortage.

"While that may be a little bit of an impact, budgetarily, it may be able to keep some of these response times down," Livaccari said.

The response times should return to normal within the next several days.

"But, this is something that has been a consistent problem, a trend that we've seen consistently over the last couple of years," Asher said.

An NOPD spokeswoman had this response:

There are a number of variables involved in this equation, including the fact that the graph reflects average response times, and doesn't differentiate between Code 1 (non-emergency) and Code 2 (emergency) calls. Obviously. Code 2 calls take precedence over Code 1 calls, so response times for non-emergency calls can be longer than calls about violent crimes. The graphic doesn't tell that whole story.
NOPD is fully-staffed on the days after Mardi Gras
andare our officers are readily responding to calls for service.

The New Orleans Police Department provided strong security coverage during the 2017 Carnival season, with a majority of officers either putting in 12-hour shifts in a police district or a minimum of 8-hour shifts along the parade route. During the 12-day period, NOPD officers put in a total of 54,150 manpower hours.