Tulsa Police reshuffle staff to deal with violent crimes

Monday, February 6th 2006, 10:36 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's Police chief says he understands why citizens are upset with the growing crime problem and says he'd like to address it with more officers.

To prevent crime, Chief Dave Been says Tulsa needs more than 100 new officers, but until that happens, the only solution is to focus on only the most serious crimes.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan explains what that means for you.

Brian Carlisle is one of 20 Tulsa Police recruits just starting at the academy. He signed up - hoping to help out. "My goal is mainly just do my job effectively and increase the manpower of the department and serve the citizens by getting more officers out on the streets."

But even after the recruits graduate - the department will still be understaffed, at a time when crime is soaring. Tulsa's overall crime rate is down 5%, but violent crimes are up more - murder up 31%, robbery up 8%, assault up 6%.

To address some of the worst problems, Tulsa's police chief is shuffling officers from one place to another. Tulsa Police Chief Dave Been: "when we add one to the robbery unit and three to homicide we have to balance that with the people in the field who are minimum staffing now, responding to the armed robberies and responding to the homicides.”

The chief has moved 3 extra detectives to homicide, 1 to robbery and added an armed robbery task force - while maintaining the serial rapist task force.

Homicide detective Sgt. Mike Huff says he can put the extra hands to good use. "When you have this level of cases and suddenly you have three more people to divide them up between, it's made everybody grateful that more help came."

The 20 new recruits won't hit the streets until the end of the year, and by then 37 other officers are expected to retire. It's a continuing problem that the chief says only time and more money can solve.