Jamie was lying in his bed when he heard the footsteps. The robbers entered through the back door, just after his wife left for the airport.
“He pointed the gun at me and he said, 'Don't you say a thing. Don't you dare move,'” says the 65-year-old M Streets homeowner. “He had the gun to my head and he made me turn over on my stomach.”
WFAA is concealing his identity because Jamie is terrified the home invasion robbers will return.
The next five minutes felt like an eternity.
“I still feel the gun on the back of my head,” he recalls. “He kept saying, ‘Where is the safe?’ and I would say, ‘I don't have the safe’ and he would press [the gun] into my head.”
Jamie waited for an hour and 27 minutes for Dallas police officers to arrive. They just didn’t have enough officers to respond sooner to the home invasion robbery.
Situations like Jamie’s are happening more, and more officers are leaving the department.
Dallas PD so far is meeting its eight-minute goal of responding to Priority 1 calls. Those include things like murders and robberies in progress.
But for Priority 2 calls – calls like Jamie’s -- the department has fallen behind. The department has a 12-minute goal for those calls. These are things like disturbances and robberies that have already occurred.
Those calls are being answered in about 22 minutes, but as Jamie’s experience shows, it can sometimes take much, much longer.
“In many instances, Priority 2 calls can be held for 30 minutes or up to three or four hours,” says Officer Nick Novello, a central patrol officer. “If we were at the precipice, we are in free fall right now.”
Other officers told WFAA that there are frequently dozens of serious calls holding with no one available to answer.
Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes recently told the city’s public safety committee the staffing situation was reaching a critical level.
“I think we're at the point now where we need to be concerned,” he said last month.
More than 260 officers have left since October. The department currently has about 3,160 officers -- more than 500 fewer officers than the department had about five years ago.
“I suspect we are going to have a very long, hot and dangerous summer for both police, firefighters -- and especially for the citizens,” Novello says.
It was about 6:40 a.m. on April 26 when Jamie heard the back door open. Then he heard the footsteps. Jamie called out, asking who was there.
A voice responded, “It’s the cops.” He immediately knew that couldn’t be true.
Two men came into his bedroom. One of them did all the talking. He held a gun to Jamie's head for almost the entire time they were in the house.
They ransacked the room. They took his phone, car keys, house keys, wallet, and other electronics.
As they were leaving, the man told him to count to 100.
“I had gotten to seven or eight and it was almost like he had lost interest,” Jamie says. “He said, ‘Don’t you get up until I’m gone.’”
The men left.
Jamie got up and locked the back door, which was wide open.
He looked out the front door. He saw no one, so he ran next door to his neighbor’s house. She called the police.
“I was at her house for I think at least 20 minutes, maybe more than 20 minutes, and they still had not shown up,” she said.
Twenty minutes passed. Forty minutes passed. An hour... and still police had not come.
It was so long that Jamie’s wife had enough time to return from Love Field Airport. He had enough time to get dressed and drive around the neighborhood looking for her jewelry box.
They repeatedly called 911 to find out what was taking so long.
“They would say, ‘Well, are they still in the house?’” he says. “I said, ‘No but the guy put a gun to my head. What if he’s still around here somewhere?’ Every time we were told, ‘Well, we don't have anyone to send out. We're shorthanded.’”
Jamie has nothing but praise for the officers who finally did respond. He says they apologized profusely for the late response.
Jamie and his wife have lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. Their house has been broken into before, but this was different and far more terrifying.
“I constantly replay the situation in my head, constantly. All day, every day,” he says.
Being robbed at gunpoint was awful enough, but waiting so for police has left him unsettled and scared.
“It is not at all acceptable. That’s who we as citizens depend on to keep us safe and make us feel safe,” he says.
His message to the city’s leadership is this: “You have to make this a priority. This has to be a top priority of the city.”
Editor’s note: We are starting a recurring series looking at response times problems in the City of Dallas. Please contact email@example.com if you have had to wait an excessive amount of time for police to respond.
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