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Eighteen Laid Off Tulsa Police Officers Return To Work

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The 18 rehired officers will be back on patrol Wednesday. The 18 rehired officers will be back on patrol Wednesday.
The officers spent Tuesday getting back all their equipment. The officers spent Tuesday getting back all their equipment.

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Eighteen rehired Tulsa police officers are gearing up for their first day back on the police force.

They were laid off a week ago, rehired Monday, and then spent Tuesday getting back all their equipment.

Wednesday morning, they returned to work.

In a news release from the Tulsa Police Department, city officials said they will use federal stimulus money to rehire 18 of the 21 laid off officers. In order to do that, the city had to formally request a change in the previously-awarded COPS grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which it did on Friday.

The Tulsa Police Department received notification on Monday that the change was approved.

10/2/2009 Related story: Eighteen Laid Off Tulsa Police Officers Will Be Rehired

But, three officers are still without jobs. The Tulsa Public Schools Police Chief says he would like to use grant money to hire those three officers, but the mayor's office and the police department say they're working through some legal issues.

Officer Shaun Downie graduated from the Academy this summer. He is one of 21 new officers who lost their jobs as the city trimmed millions off its budget.

"I just closed on a house two weeks ago, so I didn't know what to do, honestly," said Officer Shaun Downie, Tulsa Police.

A week later, he has his badge back.

"It's more than just, just a status symbol," said Officer Downie.

The 18 rehired officers spent Tuesday afternoon getting their equipment back, going through their checklists item by item. It's a proud day, but it's not all happy news.

"It's just bittersweet. It's a great day for 18 of us, but there's still three of us we really need to get back," said Officer Michelle Armentrout, Tulsa Police.

Three officers are still jobless, thanks to an unlucky lottery number picked at the start of every Academy. The chief says Tulsa Public Schools is considering offering the men security guard positions, but it's not a done deal.

"Like I said, there's some legalities in terms of TPS using our equipment and in that capacity and we're trying to work through that," said Chief Ron Palmer, Tulsa Police.

TPS has a $50,000 security grant it could use to hire the men. Mayor Kathy Taylor supports the idea, but says it's not her call.

"We just haven't gotten to the end of the road yet. We were working on that last night, and again today. And we're just working hard to try and get that nailed down," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

As the three continue to wait, 18 men and women are back on the force.

"Me personally, I worked so hard to get this, so hard to be here. And the fact that I had to give it back for a week, that was really tough, but I have it back now," said Officer Armentrout.

TPS Chief Gary Rudick told The News On 6 he can only use his grant to hire guards through private companies and he's going through a federal application process to try to hire those laid off city workers.

The 18 rehired officers will be back on patrol Wednesday.

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