NEW ORLEANS - A New Orleans East woman said she's frustrated and disappointed after it took police days to respond after someone broke into her home and stole her TVs.
Criminal justice experts said this week that the victim, Keri McCloskey, likely won’t be the last one left waiting on police in the coming months, because there aren’t enough cops.
McCloskey’s Irish Bayou home was broken into twice, the first time, on August 24. She first knew someone had broken in because the blinds were separated on the window next to the front door.
“I walked in. My house was a wreck,” she said.
McCloskey said police responded in a few minutes and the crime lab followed up about a half an hour later and took fingerprints.
“They were really nice,” she said about the police officers who responded to the initial burglary.
But two weeks ago, thieves broke in again, this time through the back door.
“Because it's off the hinge from where they kicked it in, my door doesn't close fully,” she said.
Her cell phone call log and officials with the 911 Communication District confirm that McCloskey called 911 five times that day.
“I was told stay outside, don't touch anything,” she said.
For several hours, the 7-month-pregnant mother sat outside in the heat to preserve the evidence, but police never came.
“Disgusted and really, really let down,” she said about how she felt about the police response.
The next day, McCloskey started calling the 7th District to get a response. Two days later, she says she did get a call from police at 8:30 on a Saturday night asking if she was home so they could come by. But she wasn't.
It took four days for her to finally see an officer and by then, she had repaired the damage to secure her house.
“Under normal circumstances, a police officer should arrive within minutes of the call for service,” said Rafael Goyeneche, President of watchdog group the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Like the police unions, Goyeneche said the number of cops on the street is at a critical level.
“When someone comes home and they realize their house has been burglarized or their car broken into and there isn't a suspect there, they're gonna have to wait,” he said.
According to Goyeneche, it could even happen with violent crimes after the situation is no longer an emergency, because the number of officers at its lowest in 35 years.
“They're using their resources in the best way that they can. But this is a hand that has been dealt to them. This is not a police department issue. This is a government issue,” he said.
A spokeswoman for New Orleans Police said Thursday, "Fortunately no one was armed and there was no threat of immediate danger in Ms. Mccloskey's case. Like all police departments, we must prioritize calls, and other calls that day required emergency attention. Our officers did go out to Ms. Mccloskey's home twice before finally meeting with her on the 16th to take the report. We apologize for the delay, and are working to prevent similar situations in the future.”
“You feel violated,” McCloskey said about what it’s like to be the victim of a break-in.
She also said she is disappointed because she took extra precautions in case something like this happened. She had cameras on the house, but during the first break-in, the thieves cut the lines to the cameras and stole the recording box.
Goyeneche said the city needs to hold four recruit classes to keep the numbers from dropping more next year.
The NOPD responds to more than 450,000 calls for service every year.