“I have a better chance of calling Ghostbusters.” Homeowners react to NOPD staffing shortage

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans Police Department has faced historic staffing shortages.

In mid-April, Felicia Randall’s twin daughters were home when someone tried to break in. According to Randall, that wasn’t the first time that happened.

Randall said she called NOPD and they told her no one was available. When two hours passed without a response, she took matters into her own hands.

“I said, ‘you know what, I’m going to the police station,'” Randall said.

When she arrived, there was a sign on the door that said the station was closed. She approached an officer who finally started to take a report. The officer blamed the delay on staffing issues.

“If you fund a police department with just enough people to be reactive, what you get is increase in crime,” retired NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said. “The police department is a reactive department. They follow up after crimes occur. Staffing up allows you to be a proactive department.”

That’s why Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office proposed a tax to raise their salaries.

“Staffing in the correctional facility has been especially low. I think we’re short about 100 people there,” JP Sheriff Joe Lopinto said. “Our salaries have certainly slipped behind and we need to do a better job to pick them up.”

But according to Serpas, it’s the effort to change that makes the difference.

“The city of New Orleans has chosen not to grow their police department since 2011,” Serpas said. “Here we are 11 years later and see what we get.”

Situations like the one Felicia Randall has faced time and time again.

“Why is it that it takes 2 plus hours waiting for you to get there,” she asked. “If it was their family, they wouldn’t want that to happen.”