50 Tulsa Police Officers Return To Patrols

Sunday, July 18th 2010, 4:33 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Fifty Tulsa Police officers are back on the beat. They were among those laid off earlier this year because of budget cuts. 

The officers were sworn in Friday and are once again out on patrol.

7/16/2010  Related Story: Tulsa Police Department Grows By 50 Officers With Swearing In Ceremony

For Officer Travis Barnes, getting back on patrol feels like getting back on a bike.

"It's kind of bizarre the way time passes so fast," said Barnes. 

The 28-year-old spent five years on the force before he, and 123 other officers, were laid off in January.

But he says it wasn't the end of the world. While unemployed, the father of two was able to spend much-needed quality time with his family.

"If you could get the worry out, then I would have been great, but it's just the worrying when money runs out, when am I going to get a job next," said Barnes.

Barnes was one of 50 officers who were sworn in and got their badges back on Friday. The department says in the six months since the layoffs, it was operating with the same staffing levels it had in 1978. But it only averaged 95,000 calls a year back then. In the three decades since, that number has more than tripled to 300,000 a year.

Chief Chuck Jordan says those not laid off handled the extra work well, but adding more officers to the mix will make everyone's job easier.

"It's a really big deal to have that many more officers. We're trying the best we can right now to make 911 calls. However, in police work it's been proven that pro-active policing is what really makes people safe," said Chief Jordan.

Out of necessity, Barnes says he considered pursuing other lines of work, but no job felt quite as comfortable.

"They were all Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, spending your life sitting in a cubicle and working the standard Dolly Parton 9 to 5. It didn't suit me," said Barnes.

Twenty-five more officers are being rehired, and will be sworn in August 2nd.