Tulsa Police, Fire Look To Spend More Efficiently

Thursday, March 5th 2015, 6:22 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's top public safety leaders are making a pitch for savings through spending. They might have more money to spend coming from a public safety tax.

The police and fire chiefs seem to agree they could save a lot by spending a little. More efficiency is what they're after, but that's also going to take more people.

The city council is after details on how police and fire would not just add people with more money - but how both departments would work better.

The council wants some assurance that spending more might also save more.

"Ultimately what we want to know is do the citizens feel safer because if they don't feel safe, we want to take our actions a little bit further,” TPD Deputy Chief Maj. Jonathan Brooks said.

Read the public safety proposal

For both fire and police, the top priority is more people.

“And for us it comes down to manpower, we're at the lowest levels in years, and so when you can add a few firefighters to every truck, take care of things at the scene quicker, do EMS as well and have more people on the patients,” TFD Chief Ray Driskell said.

The fire department said more money for firefighters equals fewer injuries and faster fire attack.

More money for equipment could create savings through energy efficiency at the stations and improve the EMS response.

Both departments are already working on savings, like the police department cutting down their fleet and buying more cars from the same manufacturer, making repairs easier and cheaper.

For police, the department figures more money for officers would speed up response time and make time for more crime prevention.

More money for non-lethal weapons and body cameras would save money now spent on lawsuits and for special operations team callouts and overtime.

The public safety tax would pay for 70 new police officers and 34 firefighters. Both departments figure that's what should be their minimum staffing.

“Officers are assigned to beats and Tulsa has a finite set of beats, and we need to be able to fill those,” Brooks said.

The public safety tax will be on the ballot this fall and if it's approved, it also will pay for some street maintenance work.