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Two City Councilors Ask Tulsa FOP To Give Up Take-Home Cars

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The majority of Tulsa's 780 officers drive home their police car. About half of those live outside the city limits, but within a 25-mile radius of 41st and Yale. The majority of Tulsa's 780 officers drive home their police car. About half of those live outside the city limits, but within a 25-mile radius of 41st and Yale.
Councilor Bill Christianson called on the union to give up the take-home cars. Councilor Bill Christianson called on the union to give up the take-home cars.
Councilor Rick Westcott says giving up the take-home cars would save the city enough money to get back the 21 officers, plus the helicopter unit, plus the mounted patrol. Councilor Rick Westcott says giving up the take-home cars would save the city enough money to get back the 21 officers, plus the helicopter unit, plus the mounted patrol.
The union says giving up the take-home cars for officers who live outside the city would not save the million dollars that has been quoted. They believe the number is closer to $70,000. The union says giving up the take-home cars for officers who live outside the city would not save the million dollars that has been quoted. They believe the number is closer to $70,000.

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It's a war of words over Tulsa's police layoffs. Now that 21 officers have been laid off, two city councilors are asking the police union to give up take-home police cars in order to save those jobs.

But, the police union says the councilors are out of line.

The FOP says giving up the take-home cars for officers who live outside the city would not save the million dollars that has been quoted. They believe the number is closer to $70,000, but neither the city nor the union could give The News On 6 paperwork to back up their number.

The majority of Tulsa's 780 officers drive home their police car. About half of those live outside the city limits, but within a 25-mile radius of 41st and Yale.

The Tulsa Police Department could not tell The News On 6 whether any officer lived beyond that 25-mile radius.

The police union says the presence of police cars in neighborhoods is a deterrent to crime and they were given the take-home offer in their contract by the last mayor because the city couldn't offer police much of a raise.

Since take-home cars are part of current negotiations, the union can't talk about them.

"We conduct negotiations with the city in private. We don't do that in public. That's an unfair labor practice and will be addressed shortly," said Phil Evans, the Fraternal Order of Police President.

10/27/2009  Related Story: Thirty-Seven Tulsa City Employees Get Pink Slips

City Councilor Bill Christianson called on the union to give up the take-home cars on Tuesday and City Councilor Rick Westcott is now doing the same.

Westcott says giving up the take-home cars would save the city enough money to get back the 21 officers, plus the helicopter unit, plus the mounted patrol. Westcott attributes that figure to Chief Palmer, but Chief Palmer's office told The News On 6 they cannot verify it. Chief Palmer's office says the only study they've seen was done in 2007 by a former aide to Mayor Taylor. That study showed fuel costs of about a half a million a year and maintenance costs of a half a million. The chief's office wasn't comfortable standing by those numbers until they could do more research.

The News On 6 also asked the city's finance director to confirm the million dollar figure, but haven't heard back yet.

The union says it previously offered to save the city four times that amount, $4 million, by giving up overtime and taking comp time, but the city said no.

Chief Palmer says lots of 11th hour suggestions are currently on the table.

"My guys are down, I know that. They want to point the finger at me and at the mayor, but it's truly an economic situation," said Chief Ron Palmer.

There's no question, morale is very low at the police department right now.

The Norman Police Department is trying to figure out if they can hire some of Tulsa's laid off officers and the Tulsa Public Schools Police Force is trying to do the same thing.

One officer even offered to take a pay cut and encouraged other officers to do the same, as a way to get those 21 officers back on the payroll.

 

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