Emily Baucum, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The City of Tulsa announced that they will be receiving funds to hire 19 new police officers thanks to the 2011 COPS Hiring Program grant.
The award is about $3.5 million spread over the next three years.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Chief of Police Chuck Jordan announced the news Sunday afternoon at the Riverside police substation.
A proud mayor and police chief announced -- "We're hiring." All thanks to a Department of Justice grant meant specifically to help cities hire police officers.
"These grants are extremely competitive, especially in today's financial environment," said Tulsa Mayor Bartlett.
Less than 12 percent of cities around the country can call themselves winners.
"One of the biggest things that set us apart was how our officers embrace community-based policing," said Chief of Police Chuck Jordan.
It's a program that's helped officers do more with less. Chief Chuck Jordan says right now -- the department has 710 officers. When rookies hit the streets in November, the total will be 750.
The grant allows the city to hire 19 officers -- bringing the department closer to its authorized strength of 780.
"Last year we had our first academy in two years. Now we have the current academy, the one we just finished. One coming up, and now this will give us another," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
The extra staffing will give the Tulsa Police Department some breathing room. Last year, an independent audit of city government called out T-D for giving officers jobs that could be done by civilians.
"There are officers who are doing desk jobs that could be out on the streets fighting crime," Jordan said. "You have to remember, these things happen because we didn't have the funding to get civilians. The jobs still had to be done."
But with more officers, the department can re-hire civilians for those desk jobs and build back officer staffing in departments that suffered, like investigative divisions and 911 emergency response.
"Obviously the economy drives all of this. But that is what I'll keep pushing for," said Chief Chuck Jordan.
It's a positive step forward for the department which is looking forward to the help from new officers.
The City of Tulsa has 90 days to review the terms of the grant.