NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As New Orleans police search for three suspects, Patois restaurant robbery victims say they were stunned by the slow police response. But the NOPD chief says his officers were tied up with three other armed robberies at the same time.
"I wish we had police patrolling the area," said Webster Street resident Lois Frey, who said she never sees officers.
The restaurant robbery victims say it took 20 to 25 minutes for police to respond.
"It's horrible. I mean, they feel they can do - I mean, I got here before the cops did, and I'm sure they called the cops before they called me."
The robbery is part of a big spike Uptown. A recent FOX 8 CrimeTracker investigation found that armed robberies were up 68 percent over the first six months of this year, compared to the first six months of last year.
An IG report last year criticized the NOPD for not having enough boots on the ground and called for the department to use more civilians in non-law enforcement positions.
"Can you do any more to get more officers on the street? We're doing everything we can. That process is ongoing," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison.
The department currently has 60 officers in two recruit classes, with a third class set to start in October.
Neighboring parishes often boast of a five-minute response time, and Harrison said he's committed to a five-minute goal.
"Yes we will get to those emergency response times," he said. "By and large emergency times are still low. It's the non-emergency response times, where the person is no longer in danger -those take a while."
One Patois manager said he felt as if he and his patrons were being hunted by predators who know how low NOPD manpower is.
As for the IG report, NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said since December 2014, Harrison has moved 32 officers from administrative positions to the street. Gamble also said the department is working to eliminate false alarm calls, which eat up 11 percent of officers' time.