City Council Recommends Upgrades For Police Department

Thursday, February 7th 2013, 7:24 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A month after the crime - and a day after the arrests in the Fairmont Terrace murders - the Tulsa City Council is recommending changes.

They would impact how crime tips get to the police and how police handle the information they have.

Police work is driven by information, but some of that gets gummed up through a tip line system that doesn't work as well as it could, and then can get bogged down in an old computer program at the police department.

Fixing that costs money, but there's a drive to do it spurred, in part, by the outrage of that quadruple murder.

The Tulsa Police Department has plenty of new computers, but the software that keeps all of their most important records dates back to 1976.

2/5/2013 Related Story: Group Recommends Upgrading Tulsa Police's Records Management

It's called TRACIS, and while it works, it's so far behind that officers still must write out some reports by hand, so someone else can type them in.

"We're still typing out reports and sending them in on paper," said Jill Robertson, of the Tulsa Police Department.

Replacing that software is a $7 million recommendation out of the City Council, to help the police department manage information.

The review was prompted by the murders at Fairmont Terrace Apartments.

"We can't share the data that's in there with surrounding law enforcement agencies, and that really impairs their ability to pursue criminals," said City Councilor G.T. Bynum.

The other focus of attention is the crime prevention network, what used to be the crime commission. It's a shoestring operation now, funded entirely by charity.

They outsource their call takers now, but with city budget dollars, they could have their phone calls answered here instead of out of state.

"They are going to understand the lay of the land a lot better because they're here. So would we get better information if it's localized? I think so," said Carol Bush, of the Crime Prevention Network.

Councilor Bynum hopes the city can improve the flow of information to and within the police department, especially in those critical tips that can help police solve crimes.

"We've got room for improvement to better market and better operate a system that helps everyday citizens make our community safer," he said.

The crime network money, which still doesn't have a dollar figure attached, could go into the regular budget.

The police computers would have to be on a bond issue that's coming up this fall.

Read The Council's Full List Of Recommendations