Tulsa May Accept Grant To Hire Police Officers

Tuesday, September 15th 2009, 5:52 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK --  The Tulsa City Council appears ready to accept money to add 18 police officers to the force.  It's part of the federal stimulus package.  The question over taking the money hinges on the long term costs to the city.

The City of Tulsa applied for the money that will pay the salary of 18 police officers for three years.  The city would have to pay for their training and equipment up front, and then pay their salary once the grant runs out.

08/10/2009  Related Story: Tulsa FOP Wants City To Accept Federal Grant

"We need to do it, go ahead and accept it," said Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson.

Midway into what became an hour long conversation, Councilor Jack Henderson said it's the job of elected officials to take grant money when it's offered.

"As a city councilor I think it is our jobs to do what we can, to accept the funds that come in to make this city better and this is going to make this city better," said Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson.

The COPS grant would pay the salaries of 18 new police officers for three years.  After that, the salary would come out of the city budget.

"This is the thing that bothers me, can we take this money when we've got people facing furlough?" asked Tulsa City Councilor Dennis Troyer.

"The only thing I can say to that is that it's 18 officers we wouldn't be able to afford who will support the officers currently on the street," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

Three councilors, Westcott, Martinson and Bynum , say they're against taking the grant money because of the long term cost which is estimated at $665,000 for the fourth year the officers are on the job.

The city finance director said the city won't have the money unless the economy turns around.

"I don't know how long we can wait to vote on this until we get a glimmer of hope that we've hit bottom and we're coming back, I believe we're there," said Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen.

With the current force taking furlough days to save money there is the possibility the city could hire new officers and then need to lay off some, too.

That's allowed under the rules of the grant as long as it's part of an overall city layoff.