By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK – There's a dire warning from the deputy police chief about Tulsa's thinning blue line. Twice as many officers are retiring or quitting than usual.
And that means it could take an officer longer to respond to you in an emergency.
The Tulsa Police Department is down more than 150 officers, bringing its total to 670. The drop means they'll be fewer officers patrolling the streets.
"I for one have great concern about the number of police officers we don't have working today," said Bill Christiansen, Tulsa City Council.
Deputy Chief Daryl Webster said the department had lost 92 officers from layoffs and 61 from attrition in the last year.
The result? The force is down more than 150 officers. And the leaner police force could mean longer waits for victims of crime.
"The response times increase," Chief Webster said. "As you have fewer officers to respond to calls it takes them generally longer to respond to them."
Webster updated the city council on the police department's manpower Tuesday. He says the shortage is forcing some tough decisions.
"Do you deplete investigations, do you deplete narcotics, gang enforcement, school resource officers in order to have patrol officers?" he asked.
And that calculation could affect whether cases get solved.
"Higher case loads. It takes longer to work a case," Chief Webster said. "And as I'm sure you know, the longer it takes you to begin working a case and the longer you have to work a case the more difficult it is to bring it to a successful resolution."
And a shortage solution isn't an easy or quick one. The department ended all recruiting.
"It's nine months from the first day of the academy to street," Officer Jason Willingham said. "So you could easily say 12 months period."
After a year, even more officers could have retired their badges.
Several city councilors have asked if officers laid off last January would be brought back. The deputy chief told them he didn't know. And the mayor has said he won't take any action until after July 1.