Comparing Tulsa’s homicide rate

Tuesday, January 10th 2006, 1:25 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa's homicide unit was hoping 2006 would slow down after another record setting year of 62 murders last year. But with five killings in the first nine days of the year, there's no slowing down.

With only six detectives working these cases, the Tulsa Police Department wanted to see how that compares to other similar cities.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Tulsa's detectives solved last weekend's murder of Modest Ramirez within hours of finding her body beaten to death in a creek bed. It wasn't a Crimestoppers tip or a witness, but sheer detective legwork that landed two men in jail.

Some cases take weeks, months or years to solve.

When it comes to staffing, Tulsa's homicide unit has been on the short end of the stick. Compare Tulsa to Omaha, Colorado Springs and Minneapolis, all cities with an approximate population of 400,000. In 2004, Tulsa had six homicide detectives. Omaha had 14, Colorado Springs, 9 and Minneapolis, 16.

Then, compare murder rates, Tulsa had 50, Omaha had less than half that, 20, Colorado Springs also had 20 and Minneapolis at 45.

Tulsa Police Captain Tracie Crocker: "You can only give so much physically. I'm afraid they're going to come in mentally and say, I'm spent. I had one detective during Christmas who had 50 hours of overtime in two weeks.”

Something else to consider is Tulsa's homicide detectives work all the murders, shootings, stabbing, assaults, kidnappings, officer involved shootings, suicides and missing person cases. In some of the comparison cities, the detectives only work murders or have gang units that handle the gang shootings and murders.

The good news is Tulsa's squad is getting two additional detectives, the bad news is, and that will leave another unit, short. Captain Tracie Crocker: "I have eight squads and six are crying out for more people. I have four detectives in family violence and they get over 150 cases a piece, a month.”

Keeping up with crime and getting victims justice, is a never ending cycle.

Despite having fewer detectives than a number of cities this size, Tulsa's unit solved 78 percent of the homicides last year. The national average is 65 percent.