Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin talked with us about his first two years leading the department, the challenges and what is ahead.
Chief Franklin says the department had all of these plans for technology upgrades for this year, but it was all delayed due to a ransomware attack on the city and a staffing shortage for the department. It has been a challenging year, but, he says one of his favorite parts of the job is solving problems.
"I love representing this department. I love representing every man and woman behind the badge, here. and I love being outspoken for this profession,” said Franklin.
Chief Franklin says he expects his job to be tough and it has been one thing after another. He says the ransomware attacks forced officers to go back to doing police work without a computer, which was time-consuming, while they are already understaffed, all during the national "defund the police" movement.
"The reduced staffing levels are going to be something that's not going to go away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, for 2022 we expect to lose more officers, and we don't have a good flow to deal with that attrition.,” said Franklin.
Franklin says they have officers retiring, with few new people wanting the job. He says they've stepped up their efforts of recruiting new officers, from not just Oklahoma, but all over the country.
"One of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome is we are a young department. Even though we put a person through a 27-week academy and 16 weeks of in-field training, that doesn't make them the greatest officer out there. There is development that has to continue to occur and we are trying to do that with training opportunities,” said Franklin.
Franklin says there have also been positives. He says they plan to do a major overhaul of their records system, give the TPD website a big facelift, and also upgrade officers' body and in-car cameras in 2022. He says this will all help make officers' jobs easier.
"We've had our share of issues on Tulsa Police Department, but it is nothing compared to what some of the other chiefs around the country are dealing with,” said Franklin.
He’s proud of the work his officers have done to crack down on shootings and to keep their homicide solve rate almost perfect. Franklin says he wants to thank Tulsa for all of the support and also for all their help in solving crimes.
"A lot of what we do comes from community input, community support. A lot of times on these cases we work, it is someone calling into us, and pointing us in the right directions, giving us just that piece that we need to develop additional evidence,” said Franklin.
The Chief says the highlight of the year for him was seeing Office Aurash Zarkeshan back in uniform. He says it makes him so proud and says it should be an inspiration to everyone.