Oklahoma's law officers fighting war

Saturday, March 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- About 100 law enforcement officers are among the thousands of Oklahomans called to active duty because of the war in Iraq.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has lost 22 troopers because of calls to active duty, including a helicopter pilot.

A survey of a dozen Oklahoma law enforcement and emergency agencies by The Daily Oklahoman shows they have lost about 100 people to deployment in support of the U.S. military action against Iraq.

The Lawton Police Department has lost eight officers to the war effort, another is on call and several more are eligible for active duty, Deputy Chief Ronnie Smith said.

The vacancies are being filled by officers working overtime. The department wants to bring some officers out of retirement, Smith said.

The Oklahoma City Police Department is down by 19 officers because of the war effort, Sgt. Charles Phillips said.

"We've been pretty fortunate to this point that the officers we've lost come from a broad range of units, so we've not had any specific units hit harder than others," Phillips said.

A Tulsa Police Department spokesman said his department has not lost any officers to the war effort.

Altus has contributed 10 percent -- four from a 37-member force -- of its uniformed officers, Police Chief Mike Patterson said.

"We have real viable reserve officers," he said. "Reserves up to this time have been volunteers, but we've started paying them the same as we pay regular officers. It's worked well."

The Emergency Medical Services Authority, the ambulance and medical service covering the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas, is short an emergency medical technician and two paramedics out of its 170-member staff.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department lost four firefighters out of its 973 line personnel.

Police departments in McAlester, Ardmore and Bartlesville each have one officer called to active military service, while Enid and Duncan police departments have not lost anyone.

Matt Jackson, director of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association, believes county sheriff's offices are losing more reserve deputies than full-time deputies, although no survey has been done.

At least one sheriff has had to leave for military service. Washita County Sheriff Ron Mazurek has been called up, and is assigned to Fort Sill.