NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The NOPD says they're now solving more murders. But, there are still concerns about the department's response times.
Mary Lewis says a thief may not have gotten away with thousands of dollars in tools from her house had the NOPD's response time been faster.
"One of the neighbors said he called police at two o'clock and told them that someone was trying to break in. He said it took an hour for them to respond. The guy was here for a long time. He loaded generators, compressors, chop saws, I mean stuff like big tools," said Lewis.
Lewis's family is renovating the house. And, when she showed up Saturday night to do more work she realized someone had broken in. So, she called the NOPD to report the burglary. But, she says it took them hours to get there.
"Nobody should have to wait for four hours, four and half hours to get a response from the police when they call and they wonder why nobody respond when the police need help," said Lewis.
She says she didn't find out until later that her neighbor reportedly had also called earlier in the day to report the break-in.
"It seems like if they would've responded appropriately the first time then they might be trying to get a handle on crime cause I'm quite sure this person is not just going to stop with one break-in," said Lewis.
The NOPD says after a spike in homicides earlier this year, they've increased their murder solve rate to 57%. That's up from 27% five months ago. But, LSU criminologist Peter Scharf says delayed response times could affect clearance rates with other crimes.
"There is some optimism in the area of homicide, murders, but in other kinds of crimes if the burglar left an hour and a half ago you're not going to be able to solve the case. The third area is citizen confidence so when the police don't come for a long time, they call again, again, and again 911, where's the police officer, their confidence in the organization goes away," said Scharf.
Scharf says there are also serious implications with delayed response times.
"If I know the cops aren't going to come for an hour and half I can do whatever I want, you know. If I want to do a drive by, if I want to burglarize a house, if I want to rob somebody, I want to carjack a car, the chance of me getting caught is between slim and zero," said Scharf.
Scharf says residents also might not bother calling for help if they think it will take too long for police to show up. As for Lewis, she just hopes the NOPD will add more manpower and improve how long it takes to respond to people in need.
"They need more people, they need a better response time, whoever answers their phone, whoever prioritizes calls need to have a lesson in what's priority and what's not," said Lewis.
We reached out to the NOPD about Lewis's concerns. A spokesman says there is no record of a neighbor calling earlier in the afternoon to report the break-in.
But, when Lewis called, the NOPD says because the crime was no longer in progress, it was not considered as high of a priority as other calls. But, police say they recognize there is room for improvement when it comes to their response times and they are making every effort to address that.