Tulsa Public Safety Intelligence Working Group Holds First Meeting

Tuesday, January 15th 2013, 9:11 am
By: Emory Bryan

There's a new effort in Tulsa to make sure police officers get the tips they need to help solve crimes.

The Public Safety Intelligence Working Group was formed last week at the suggestion of Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum, as a result of the murders at Fairmont Terrace last week.

The Tulsa City Council convened this group to examine whether Crime Stoppers could be more effective. It's a new short term committee to come up with the best practices Tulsa can use and afford.

"And I'm hoping this is the moment we turn that corner and make things happen," said Carol Bush, of the Tulsa Crime Commission.

Bush is the only paid staffer for the commission, which has a few volunteers, and a small budget. She has support from the police, but they have hurdles to handling the information. They work with an antique computer records system they'd like to replace.

"In 1977, it was state of the art. It was an incredible system, written by city of Tulsa programmers. In 1977, it was fantastic; in 2013, it's not," said Capt. Van Ellis, with Tulsa Police.

The City Council wants to know if there's more the city can do to build up Crime Stoppers and encourage people to provide tips.

"There's a great deal of information that we learned today that can help us, the Council and the Mayor, do a better job of tracking and following through on these tips," said Councilor G.T. Bynum.

Bush says Tulsa could have a top of the line crime tip line system with more money, primarily spent to educate the people who have information on how they can report it anonymously and possibly get a reward.

The police say it's not just more tips they need, it's more good tips.

"We really need to be reaching out to the people in our city who have the information that's important to us," Capt. Ellis said. "It's not just about receiving a lot of information, it's about receiving the right information, too."

Replacing the computer for the police would cost several million dollars.

The crime commission says the best effort for them would cost about $200,000 more per year.

For now, they have this message: tips can be anonymous on the phone, online, or by text.