Tulsa Police Department Severely Understaffed, Study Shows
TULSA, Oklahoma - A scientific study of Tulsa's crime and police department shows crime is higher than it should be, and the police department is severely understaffed.
The recommendation is for at least 150 more officers to make a difference in violent crime.
The police department has been saying for years they need more people to answer calls, and the study says that's right.
Officers now are so busy answering 911 calls they can't do much proactive policing - the kind that prevents crime.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati say Tulsa's police force is too small to really impact the numbers on the most violent crimes.
Their analysis is the first independent numbers the city has had on crime and policing in more than a decade, but they reflect what the department and the police union has said for years.
“The data really suggests the police force really needs to grow between 150 and 200 officers to really address citizen concerns," said Nicholas Corsaro, Ph.D., with the University of Cincinnati.
Tulsa has 715 officers now, but the researchers found the ones on patrol spend almost all of their time reacting to 911 calls instead of doing more proactive policing that disrupts criminal behavior.
It's a battle Police Chief Chuck Jordan has fought his entire time in office.
"I look at that ten-year pattern of crime that it hasn't changed, and the size of our police department hasn't changed either, so it's not surprising," he said.
The report goes to city councilors as they consider how to divide future tax packages between public safety and everything else.
The council is adopting the goal of the report for as many as 200 more officers. Jordan said it could take ten years to build up the force by that much.
Sergeant Clay Ballenger with the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police said, “No matter what crime statistic you look at, having more officers will let us put more bad guys in jail, and that will reduce crime.”
The report is going to figure into town hall meetings on public safety. The meetings are:
- October 20; Districts 3 and 6; Lewis and Clark Elementary – 737 South Garnett Road
- October 27; Districts 2 and 9; Jewish Federation of Tulsa – 2021 East 71st Street
- November 3; Districts 1 and 4; OSU-Tulsa Auditorium – 700 North Greenwood Avenue