Wednesday, November 15th 2023, 5:18 pm
Tulsa's homicide rate has dropped nearly 40 percent in the last year, from 65 murders this time last year to 40 right now.
Investigators say aggressive police work, hammering down on crime across the board, and officers going after the worst of the worst repeat offenders have been key in preventing a lot of murders.
Tulsa Police investigated two homicides last Friday, one where they say a man shot and killed his brother who was breaking in and another where police say a man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend. Before that, it had been 47 days since the homicide unit had worked on a murder.
"You are always tense, always ready for the next one to happen, and we've gone quite a while between murders, thankfully, so it has been able to give us a little bit of a rest and bring ourselves back together,” said Lieutenant Brandon Watkins with Tulsa Police Homicide.
Tulsa has averaged 70 homicides a year for the last five years, with 81 in 2020. Watkins says that takes a toll on his detectives as they work around the clock, and it can be tough to keep up.
"At one point this year, we had five in a row that were all open and were all difficult, and we were able to knock that down to two that were left open because we were able to focus on those. It definitely helps out,” said Watkins.
Watkins credits TPD's crime gun unit for going after shooters in the city and putting them in jail before they kill someone.
"We've got a very aggressive auto theft unit that’s going after car thieves. All that stuff you kind of knock down regular crime across the board, and hopefully this is the positive result of that,” said Watkins.
Watkins says the two open cases this year are tied to the Kickback Club. Terrence McElwee was shot and killed on Highway 169 after leaving the club, and days later Nicari Owens was killed at the club. Watkins says they are making headway on both but need someone to step up with information.
"We want to finish every single case with every case cleared."
Watkins says they've been able to spend a lot more time working on cold cases because of the slower year. He says they've been able to take a couple cases to the DA's office for charges, but in some cases the suspect has died.
November 15th, 2023
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