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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- An Uptown family woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone breaking in and luckily their dog's barking scared off the intruder. What they didn't expect was no one answering their 911 calls for help.

'It's a Taurus 32,' said Terri Bice holding a gun she never thought she'd own.

Now the Riverbend resident does own a gun, and there's a reason why.

'I think someone who would break the door down with that force had a serious intention,' said Bice pointing out the damage to her front door.

On March 16, Bice's family was fast asleep when they were woken up around 2 a.m., to someone trying to break in to their home.

Bice believes it wasn't the door, but barking from Molly that stopped the intruder in their tracks.

So, she did what anyone would do. Grabbed her phone and dialed 9-1-1.

She got no answer.

'We all know about first responders and what their importance is that's not going to happen if no one answers,' said Bice.

She documented her calls for help: two to 911; two to the NOPD's non-emergency line; and one to NOPD's Second District. The final call was answered and Bice confirms an officer showed up two hours after the attempted home invasion.

'We keep being told that action is being done to fix it and it doesn't seem to be happening or it certainly isn't happening quick enough,' said New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry who is aware of Bice's story.

Guidry says a Criminal Justice Committee Meeting already scheduled for Wednesday will address staffing issues at the Orleans Parish Communication District, along with a reduction of NOPD officers on the street.

According to Guidry, last summer the City's IT Department recommended a total of 65 call takers. Right now, there are only 36.

'We're going to need the cooperation of the NOPD, the Administration, the Orleans Parish Communications District, the EMS and the Fire Department all working on this issue,' added Guidry.

'I'm a devout person. It wasn't our time,' said Bice.

An extremely close call for her family now means more emergency numbers on speed dial.

Looking to the future, Bice hopes a life isn't jeopardized because there's no answer at the other end of the phone.

'When someone calls 911, that's their most vulnerable moment, probably in their entire life,' said Bice.

No one from the Landrieu Administration, the NOPD or the Orleans Parish Communications District were available for on-camera interviews with Eyewitness News on Monday.

However, Deputy Mayor Jerry Sneed issued this 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.'

The NOPD says this year it has started hiring, to bring its current level of 36 operators up to a total of 55.

NOPD's spokesperson Remi Braden issued this statement on behalf of the police department:

'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.'

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