Drug dealers help buy crime fighting equipment for the Tulsa Police Department

Friday, September 9th 2005, 10:42 am
By: News On 6

Drug dealers just bought Tulsa's SWAT team $200,000 worth of new life-saving equipment. The money came from the drug forfeiture fund, where cars, boats and cash are taken from convicted drug dealers and handed over to law enforcement.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Tulsa's Special Operations Team is made up of highly trained, courageous men and women who are willing to take on the worst of the criminals and situations.

This type of work requires special equipment, but that equipment is expensive and the department's budget is super-tight. So, officers say it's only fair the profits drug dealers make, should do some good. Tulsa Police Sgt Rick Weigel: "I think it's great. They don't pay taxes on their ill gotten gains and now, they're paying taxes."

The SWAT team purchased a ballistics blanket with the drug money. Officers can drape it on the outside of a police car if they need to get in close to rescue an officer or citizen down. They can carry it when they have to get close to a dangerous situation and keep themselves safe, can even use it overhead in case there's a sniper on a roof firing off rounds.

The shields they currently have[pictured] only offer protection to the officers from handguns. The new ballistics armor will also protect them from rifles and shotguns. Another purchase is a combination equipment truck-command post. They bought a trailer nearly 15 years ago, but it outlived its usefulness long ago. "It's much more versatile, so we won't have to go in anyone's home, we'll have telephone, generator and electrical power and all that."

The police department will also buy hi-tech communications equipment that will help them during negotiations, all things designed to keep officers as well as suspects, safe. "With that money, we are able to buy equipment that we couldn't otherwise afford given the way the budget has been the last couple, three years." So, at least in this case, crime does pay.

Tulsa's Special Operations Team says it's getting called out more often than in the past. In just the past few weeks, they've had 11 incidents.