Tulsa Police Choose Furloughs Over Layoffs

Wednesday, July 8th 2009, 9:51 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The union approved their contract with the city, meaning officers will have to take eight days off without pay. The alternative would have left 48 officers without a job so the department could stay on budget.

Fraternal Order of Police members approved the contract, but not without a warning for Tulsans. Some officers say either way the vote went tonight, there would be fewer officers on the street, and citizens will pay the price.

Officers began voting Tuesday at precincts across the city, forced to choose between what they say are the lesser of two evils.

"We felt we were met with ultimatums: come up with money or we're laying off officers, and that scared a lot of people. I'm not going to lie to you, that scared a lot of people," said Sgt. Shane Tuell of the Tulsa Police Department.

Diminishing sales tax revenue means tough times for every city department, including police. The city needed to cut $1.7 million from the TPD's budget - either through furloughs or layoffs.

Officers who voted to approve the contract agreed to eight furlough days over the next year. That is roughly equivalent to a 3% pay cut.

But voting no would have meant firing as many as 50 officers.

In a statement released this evening, FOP Lodge 93 President Phil Evans said the citizens of Tulsa are the real winners because the City will retain the officers.

"The citizens will maintain 48 Tulsa police officers which means the same officers are on the streets. The bad news is there are over 52,000 total hours in which the citizens are losing some type of protection," said Evans.

Related Story 7/8/2009: Police Fear Contract Will Cost Citizen Safety

The contract will remain in effect until June, 2010.