Tulsa police reorganize to meet budget crunch

Sunday, June 22nd 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

The Tulsa Police Department will have fewer detectives to investigate hit-and-run accidents and vehicle burglaries as the agency reorganizes to cope with a budget crunch.

Administrators are working to keep enough officers on the streets to answer dispatched calls, but some investigative and specialty units are bearing the budgetary burden.

Instead of three Street Crimes Units, the department will have only one, Police Chief Dave Been said. Street crimes officers perform surveillance and try to capture suspects when a string of vandalism or a rash of burglaries or robberies occurs.

The reorganization takes effect at the end of August, when one Street Crimes Unit of eight officers will be assigned to the Special Investigations Division.

Units that work cases like fatal hit-and-runs, vehicle burglaries and larcenies will also be disbanded. A small investigative unit will be created at the Detective Division to investigate those cases for the entire city.

Been said there will be no reductions in force in the homicide, cyber crimes and exploitation units but that the other investigative units will be reduced slightly.

Since the department has no new academy class, seven officers will be moved from the training center to the field. Mounted patrol and the helicopter unit will also lose officers.

Been said the reorganization will provide 17 more officers at each division for patrol duty.

The city's new budget represents a 4.9 percent reduction from the fiscal 2003 budget. The Police Department was instructed to cut $5 million for the next fiscal year, Been said.

Overtime has been slashed, and officers will be driving squad cars longer because there is no money to replace them as frequently.

Negotiations are ongoing regarding Mayor Bill LaFortune's requested pay cuts of about 2.5 percent from sworn police officers.

The department must also find money for several unfunded mandates in the consent decree that settled a racial bias lawsuit against the department, Been said.

The plaintiffs, a group of black officers, and the city agreed Dec. 3 to settle the case, which has been in federal court since 1994.

Been said $1.2 million was earmarked to implement the consent decree's requirements but that it may not be enough to buy the data collection system it calls for.

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