By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Fifty Tulsa Police officers laid off earlier this year are now back on the job. The officers were sworn in during a ceremony Friday morning at the Tulsa Police Academy.
The rehired officers report for work this weekend.
It doesn't put the department up to current-day staffing levels, but it's an improvement from the past six months.
Many of the officers were afraid this day would never come, but they held out hope and were rewarded Friday. They say they are anxious to get back to doing the job they love, in the city they love.
Andrew Weeden is one of the 50 officers who took part in the ceremony. He has a bachelor's degree and master's degree, grew up in Minnesota and moved to Tulsa three years ago, just to take the job.
"I moved here just for this department. To get laid off was kinda heartbreaking. We were all looking forward to this day. Thank God it finally came," said Officer Andrew Weeden, Tulsa Police.
The department has been at 1978 staffing levels the past six months. That was a time police got 95,000 calls a year, compared to 300,000 now.
"I think it's huge, a really big deal to have that many more officers. We try our best to make 911 calls, but being proactive really makes people safe and we'll be able to engage in some of that now," said Chief Chuck Jordan, Tulsa Police.
After officers swore to protect and serve, they got their badges back.
Officer Weeden's first child is due in August, so he says getting his paycheck back is a wonderful blessing. He's assigned to the Gilcrease Division, working nights and is glad to be doing a job he has wanted since childhood.
Officer Weeden: "My mother has drawings from when I was three-years-old, drawing police cars."
Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "So, this is a dream come true?"
Officer Weeden: "Yes."
Twenty-five more officers who had been laid off will be sworn in on August 2nd. It's still not up to current staffing levels, given all the recent retirements, but every officer helps. As Chief Jordan said, it's a good day for the officers, a good day for the citizens and a bad day for the criminals.
Tulsa Police officer Cpl. Mark Secrist says having the additional officers back on the street will help with the department's response times.
The City of Tulsa spent more than a million dollars during the layoffs and rehire process.
One of the two police department's helicopters will return to service Friday night as well.
Thursday, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the helicopter will begin patrols at 7 p.m. Friday.
The move comes after the city council found money left over from last fiscal year.
The academy is located at 6066 East 66th Street North.