Added Patrols In Downtown Tulsa Have Lessened Transient Issue, Business Owners Say
TULSA, Oklahoma - Police say a crackdown to stop panhandling in downtown Tulsa that started three weeks ago is showing results; and businesses have noticed a change for the better too.
There are still transients in the park at 6th and Main, still people sleeping outside, but not as many as before.
The people who live and work downtown noticed a change when police started concentrated patrols three weeks ago. Police have made 57 arrests, and issued 60 citations.
They've run records on 243 people and had 390 other contacts downtown..
Sergeant Bryan Bryden with Tulsa Police said, “We've arrested people with felony warrants, we've arrested people for public intoxication. Every arrest makes a difference with something.”
Bryden said a downtown email tip-line has been especially effective in getting attention on problem areas.
The homeless people downtown said they've noticed the difference too.
Kevin Johnson said he believes the arrests were justified, but now he believes the police are just moving homeless people around.
“Also all the homeless people are watching out for the cops and moving more; they're not just laying around and staying there all day long,” Johnson said.
The homeless are often on the move to get a meal, or find another place to be, but the large groups are mostly gone during the day.
For some it was the groups that were the problem.
“They slowly pushed further down that way. We've seen more officers on bicycles and it's helped our business a lot because they're not standing out here. People were afraid to come in,” said downtown worker, Chris Molina.
Even though the police have seen early signs of success they said they'll continue the program for 90 days to see if the change sticks.
Police said the increased contact helped them identify a robbery suspect Wednesday, so they believe the patrols pay off in other ways, too.