Tulsa Police Officers See Trend Of Teens Involved In Violent Crimes

Tuesday, October 6th 2015, 11:27 pm
By: News On 6

It could take a decade, but the Tulsa Police Department could grow by 200 officers. That number came out of an independent study of Tulsa's crime and police staffing.

The study found officers spend "almost all of their time on reactionary calls" but would have a bigger impact on violent crime with more officers on patrol.

More police officers in Tulsa would mean more community policing - officers on the streets, preventing crimes.

10/6/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Police Department Severely Understaffed, Study Shows

It might help an alarming trend that lead homicide detective Dave Walker is noticing - teens getting guns, committing robberies and shooting and killing the victim.

The most recent example, according to Walker, is a homicide Monday morning. Walker believes a teenager was trying to rob a man but ended up shooting and killing him when he got caught.

Tulsa Police arrested 16-year-old Keshawn Barnes Tuesday for the murder of Tomas Rodriguez. Investigators said Barnes and another teen were going to burglarize Rodriguez's home, but ran off.

10/6/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Police Identify Murder Victim, Arrest Teenage Suspect

Rodriguez chased them, was shot and later died.

Detectives said that's becoming a trend.

Deputy Chief Jonathan Brooks said, "We have to reduce the violence, and the violent crimes, and the gun associated crimes and the gang-related crimes in Tulsa."

It's the sort of crime police believe could be prevented with more community policing.

A plan, presented at a town hall meeting Tuesday, would use a portion of the expiring 0.6 percent sales tax for public safety to add more police officers to Tulsa - 24 of them for preventative policing in hot spot areas of crime.

Brooks said Tulsa Police staff levels are what they were back in 1990, with 713 officers currently working.

"Twenty-five years ago, we didn't have the cyber crimes problems that we have now. We didn't have homeland security that the officers have to take care of now," he said.

Brooks said, right now, 80 percent of an officer's time is spent going call-to-call, rarely getting time to check on crime-prone areas or just talk to people, especially youth.

"It may make the difference between whether they're a productive adult or they're in our judicial system," said Brooks.

Another way police said they could interact with teens is by having more school resource officers; there are only two in Tulsa now.