War Of Words Continues Between Tulsa Police Union And Mayor
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the Tulsa police union "needs to take a deep breath," instead of believing there is a hidden agenda when it comes to eliminating the positions previously held by laid-off Tulsa Police officers.
On Monday The News On 6 reported that it appeared the laid-off TPD officers may not be getting rehired. That was because those jobs had been eliminated by Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett at the request of the city's finance office.
On Tuesday, the FOP released a statement saying it was "shocked" by the news.
The mayor and the Tulsa Police union held back-to-back news conferences Wednesday afternoon to discuss the status of negotiations between the city and the union as well as union concerns over the abolishing of vacant city positions..
In the continuing war of words between the Police Officer's union and Tulsa's mayor, the union accuses Mayor Dewey Bartlett of making layoffs permanent – which the mayor says is not true.
A piece of paper that abolished positions is just for planning, says the mayor. and it's no indication of whether the city will - or will not - hire back police officers who were laid off.
There is one thing on which both sides agree.
"There's been a lot of miscommunication and a lot of misunderstanding," said Kim Presley of the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police.
The police officer's union accuses the mayor of secretly eliminating jobs they hoped to get back in the next budget year - the 89 officers who remain laid off.
The mayor says it's not true.
"No one is out to get them; there is no hidden agenda," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
At City Hall - positions and people are not the same thing - and even though the mayor did abolish all positions left empty by the layoffs - he says reinstating them is a simple paperwork issue once there's money in the budget.
The police union says that's not their understanding.
"I'd love to say that we're going to be able to hire those officers and have an academy class, but right now that's not going to be possible," Presley said.
But the union is most upset that every budget balancing offer they've made has been rejected. They believe more cuts are coming - and that the mayor's ultimate agenda is to have lower paid county deputies patrolling the city.
"There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I want to see or I'm supporting or promoting or pushing a merger, a consolidation of the Tulsa Police Department and the County Sheriff's Office: zero, zip, it's not true," Bartlett said.
Bartlett says when the city has the money available - he wants to rehire laid off officers and hire even more.
The union doesn't believe it.
No one is talking any longer about bringing back the 89 officers before the next budget year. They'll settle on a contract and a budget about the same time - and only then will it be certain if they officers can be rehired.