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Tulsa Police's Gilcrease Division Takes Different Approach To Fighting Crime

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

With manpower issues being what they are, Major Travis Yates is having to think outside the box to best use the people he has. So whenever there is an area where there's an increase in crime or calls for service, he sends his traffic unit there and it seems to be making a huge difference.

The traffic unit saturates the trouble spot with officers and they still do traffic enforcement work; they just do it in that one or two square mile area and do it in such a way that it's highly visible to both the criminals and the neighbors.

"The best thing out of all of it is we talk to the neighbors,” said Sergeant Bryan Bryden of the Tulsa Police Department, Gilcrease Division Traffic Unit. “They say, ‘We sure are glad to see you out there. We have problems with this or that.’ They let us know what's going on and we're able to address those issues as well."

They spent a month in the I-244, Sheridan and Pine area and are now working in the Pearl District, near 11th and Utica.

They've written nearly 1,000 citations and taken nearly 80 people to jail for warrants, and even caught some drunk drivers, things they don't normally see during the day.

That frees up other officers to do police work who usually only have time to run call to call to call.

"Anytime we can reduce the crime in an area, reduce calls for service there, the officers who normally work that area have more time to proactively find crime that's happening," explained Bryden.

Police say the traffic unit still works wrecks, fatality hit-and-runs and does sobriety checkpoints.

But by doing their regular traffic work in specific trouble spots, they saw an overall crime drop of 17 percent in the Sheridan area compared to the same time last year and a crime drop of 36 percent in the Pearl District from last year.

They're about to wrap up their work in the Pearl District and have already pinpointed the next trouble spot. They say in that part of town, this time of year, home break-ins always go up.

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