Tulsa Cuts 10 Police Academy Spots As 'Last Resort'

Thursday, March 6th 2014, 4:43 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Budget cuts at the Tulsa Police Department mean ten people accepted for the next police academy have had the offer rescinded. They were to start training in May.

The police academy is how Tulsa brings in new officers to replace those who leave, that's about two each month. A new class starts in May; it was supposed to have 23 recruits, but that's been cut back to 13.

The police academy cut is just short of a layoff. Recruits who were promised jobs won't get them after all. The academy class in training now won't be affected, but the next class is being cut down to a less expensive size.

Tulsa City Manager, Jim Twombly said, "So at about $60,000 for each officer in next year's budget, that's a savings of $600,000."

The city council questioned why the academy wasn't cut before the recruits were given jobs, but they generally approved of the savings because so many cuts are needed to balance the budget.

Tulsa City Councilor, Blake Ewing, said, "The city's revenue pot continues to shrink, so if we don't as a municipality figure out how to make people come to Tulsa and spend their dollar bills, we'll continue to look at budget issues like this month after month and year after year."

In 2010, the department hit a low of 669 officers, right after a layoff. The numbers have picked up since then to 774 officers. With attrition, and a smaller academy, the projection is 759 officers by next summer.

While the police academy will get smaller, there is no fire academy planned in the next budget year because of the costs. Everyone at city hall thinks next year's budget will be even worse.

"It's just indicative of the times, we've got month after month of shortfalls and it's affecting every department across the board," Ewing said.

Twombly told councilors, police and fire won't face layoffs, but said he felt like there is a strong possibility of they could happen in other places; parks, and streets and general government.

Councilor G.T. Bynum said the cut was just one of what likely to be many painful decisions over the next six months as the city manages spending that is about $10 million dollars over projected income for the year.