Arrests in Tulsa decline except near two Walmart stores
BY CURTIS KILLMAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 7:07 AM
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Tulsa police are arresting fewer people in midtown and more people in outlying areas of the city, the latter in part due to more bookings linked to Walmart larcenies, a Tulsa World analysis shows.
The analysis of Tulsa Police Department arrest data indicates jail bookings in recent years have generally declined over large swaths of the city. The biggest declines in arrests are in the areas just east of downtown, the analysis shows.
Meanwhile, arrests have increased principally in two areas of the city.
The increase in arrests is in large part due to more larceny arrests at two Walmart stores: one near Memorial Drive and Admiral Boulevard, the other near 81st Street and Lewis Avenue.
A city prosecutor said that while he doesn't keep statistics on where cases originate, he noted that experience has shown the two Walmarts are always big sources of his caseload.
"We get a lot of tickets from there and arrests from there," City Prosecutor Robert Garner said.
The analysis of TPD data indicates arrests at an address associated with the east side Walmart increased from about 340 in fiscal 2007 to nearly 800 in fiscal 2012.
Arrests at the 81st Street and Lewis Avenue Walmart have increased from about 100 bookings in fiscal 2007 to 440 in fiscal 2012.
A spokesman at Walmart corporate headquarters did not respond to a request for comment. The arrest data does not include those cases where only a citation was issued, a common practice.
Elsewhere in Tulsa, though, arrest rates since 2007 have declined.
The biggest decline in booking rates was the area bounded by 21st and Pine streets and Peoria and Harvard avenues. The arrests rates there declined by about 300 to 500 bookings per square mile from 2007 to 2012.
And while the area, which includes the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, is still within one of the higher arrests zones in the city, jail bookings have declined by about 35 percent since 2007.
Former City Councilor Maria Barnes, a Kendall-Whittier neighborhood resident of 27 years, said she has noticed a reduction in crime in the area in recent years.
"You have a neighborhood and businesses that have come together," Barnes said.
The combined effort is a product of a plan geared toward redeveloping the neighborhood, she said.
"And that's been part of the plan - to get the crime out," Barnes said. "We at one time had a lot of prostitutes that walked Sixth Street and 11th Street, and everyone just pulled together and we all worked very closely."
Barnes said city officials, police and area residents are all working together. "People are noticing it is a whole lot safer," she said.
Tulsa Police Capt. Van Ellis cautioned against reading too much into the arrest numbers.
"Police activity and allotment of our resources is planned not to generate arrests as much as it is to affect crime," Ellis said.
"To me, we are looking more at quality of arrests and how arrests affect crime rather than quantity of arrests. That's really the issue if you look at our crime numbers in the last few years."
Indeed, the decline in arrests citywide mirrors the general reduction in the city crime rate, which peaked in 2004 and has generally declined since 2007.
The city of Tulsa crime rate in 2007 was 74.96 crimes per 1,000 people compared to 65.34 crimes per 1,000 people in 2011.
But property crimes appear to be driving most of the increase in arrest rates in certain retail shopping areas.
In fiscal 2012, two areas of the city along the South Memorial Drive corridor had the highest concentrations of arrest rates and were both largely driven by theft arrests.
Arrests in fiscal 2012 ranged from 650 to 950 arrests per square mile near Memorial Drive and Admiral Boulevard and the retail area between 61st and 71st streets along Memorial Drive.
Garner said larceny arrests and citations typically increase with the start of the Christmas season. His office prosecutes most of the first-time offenders charged with theft of items valued at less than $500.
First-time offenders who plead guilty usually receive probation on a deferred sentence without a conviction and pay about $500 in fees. They are also required to attend a larceny-prevention course.
"Some people we reach, and others it's just punishment," Garner said of the course.
The second offense will usually result in a conviction and a $500 fine, plus court costs.
Those with a second larceny conviction will face up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
"It's just a question of how much time," Garner said.
Original Print Headline: Arrest rates decline in Tulsa
Curtis Killman 918-581-8471