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NOPD's average response time soars to 2-and-a-half hours as officers leave force

History shows that the best way for NOPD to improve their response times is to hire and retain more officers.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans police's response times have skyrocketed in the last three years, going from 51 minutes to two-and-a-half hours on average, according to new data presented to City Council today.

It's no surprise that those numbers have gone up as the number of NOPD officers goes down.

“I would argue right now that we’re already in a public health crisis, but I think we’re quickly getting far beyond that," Council VP JP Morrell said.

This isn't the first time call times have jumped so dramatically.

When we released our award-winning "Call Waiting" investigation in 2015, the average NOPD response time was an hour and 19 minutes, up from just 24 minutes in 2010.

Just like this year, the NOPD was hemorrhaging officers and the ones still on the force faced massive backlogs.

"These younger officer, they're working patrol, they come on and it's all backlog, backlog, backlog," crime analyst Jeff Asher said. "It's just constantly trying to swim to catch up."

NOPD officials said the data presented Wednesday is "incomplete." According to police, the data should focus on NOPD's emergency response times rather than their response to all calls for help.

When responding to an emergency call, it takes NOPD officers just under 13 minutes to get there on average.

History shows that the best way for NOPD to improve their response times is to hire and retain more officers.

When asked about that on Tuesday, Chief Shaun Ferguson said the department is working on it, but they need more support from the public and media to make it happen.

"As for the public, we’re asking you to speak to us, tell us what you’re seeing," he said. "From the media standpoint, you have a responsibility to report responsible information. Let’s stop building on the negative and let’s start building on the positive and give this city a sign of hope."

That sentiment drew a fiery response from Morrell, who has called for Ferguson to be removed from officer.

"Everything is not OK. I don’t blame officers for leaving. I blame the people that manage the officers," Morrell said. "Stop blaming citizens for dysfunction. Stop telling citizens we need you to come take a job at a department everyone’s fleeing because we won’t fix their problems.”

But what will fix the problem?

Both NOPD and City Council have discusses ideas like letting civilians take some calls off NOPD's plate and a program to bring in officers from neighboring departments, better known as "lateral transfers."

But for now, those are still just ideas.

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