Editorial: Tulsa police struggle to recover manpower
BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/12 at 2:53 AM
It has been two years since an unprecedented level of layoffs occurred at the Tulsa Police Department, thanks to the budget crisis at that time, and police still are struggling to get back to full strength.
Tulsa's city revenues have shown improvement in recent months, but the ongoing police manpower issues demonstrate we're not out of the woods yet.
Two years ago, more than 130 officers were laid off. Luckily, most of them were hired back, but with an attrition rate of about three officers a month, it's proving difficult for the department to recover to its full complement.
Right now, the department has about 758 officers, which includes the 25 trainees in the current academy class. The department's authorized staffing level is 781.
Because of the budget crunch, academy classes for police had to be cut back. Another academy class is scheduled for July, but it will be up to Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the City Council to ensure that there is adequate funding to train a meaningful number of officers.
Fortunately, the Tulsa Fire Department, which made concessions during the budget crisis to avoid layoffs, is only eight firefighters below its current authorized level of 676.
Tulsans might not feel that having a couple dozen fewer officers on board to respond to crime within the city is that big of a deal. But staffing levels do make a difference. Because of the reduction in staffing levels, Tulsa police were forced to quit responding to certain types of calls. There just wasn't enough manpower to get to them all.
Just weeks ago, TPD began responding again to car break-ins, one of the types of police calls that had been suspended during the revenue crunch.
Here's hoping revenues continue to rebound and Tulsa's public safety net soon can be restored to full strength.
Original Print Headline: Struggling