Tulsa's Crime Commission getting new name, renewed purpose
BY AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 7:41 AM
The Crime Commission wants to make its message clear: It is not the Police Department.
Despite its 30-plus years of working with area residents and law enforcement agencies, people still struggle to understand that the commission and law enforcement are separate entities, which has spurred the agency to revamp its image, starting with its name and logo, said Director Carol Bush.
As of January, the Crime Commission will be known as the Crime Prevention Network.
Bush said she doesn't think the existing moniker clearly expresses the agency's mission of crime-prevention education and safety awareness.
"This will allow us to do a better job telling our story," she said.
Bush also hopes the new year will signal an end to the type of high-profile tumult and tragedy Tulsa and the nation have witnessed in 2012.
"It's been a crazy year in an unusual way," she said. "Not only in Tulsa, but nationally we had a lot of really violent crimes. It seemed like we were on this roller coaster of national events followed by really tragic, heinous (local) events."
Bush cited the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old teenager in Florida by a neighborhood watch captain, as well as the Good Friday and Best Buy shootings in Tulsa, the brutal beatings and subsequent deaths of George and Nancy Strait in Tulsa, and the slaying of Tulsa Memorial High School senior Kayla Ferrante as examples - all of which brought the Crime Commission and its efforts into the spotlight.
"You hate that any of those high-profile cases had to happen," but killings such as the Good Friday shootings, in which three black people were killed and two others were wounded in what prosecutors believe were racially motivated hate crimes, give the Crime Commission an opportunity to build credibility in an area of town where people don't trust the police, she said.
Crime Stoppers offers rewards for information leading to arrests in felony crimes, and the Tulsa Police Department called Crime Stoppers tips the biggest help in identifying and locating suspects Jacob England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, two days after the April 6 shooting spree.
In that case, investigators responded to more than 30 tips, a third of which proved to be credible, they said. In fact, the Crime Stoppers hot line received more calls in April than in any other month this year.
"We got a lot of visibility this year, and people were using" the Crime Commission's programs, Bush said.
High-profile crime in the city led to the creation of 47 new Alert Neighbors groups - 10 more than last year.
A watch group established after a burglary-turned-homicide near Harvard Avenue and Virgin Street on March 14 led the way in bringing communities together, Bush said.
"It was a good year in that we've seen more people from all four corners of the city" working to prevent crime, she added.
Other efforts in which the agency participated include a public safety task force commissioned and appointed by the mayor and City Council, as well as a roundtable gathering of Tulsa County law enforcement agencies, fire departments and the Crime Commission at which collaborative crime-prevention efforts were discussed.
"We're all part of the same team, and we really need to communicate better," Bush said, emphasizing that the Crime Commission serves not only Tulsa but the surrounding areas, too.
Representatives of the agencies plan to meet quarterly in 2013.
Bush said she expects to see legislation that would ban texting while driving introduced to state lawmakers in the coming year, a goal of the Crime Commission's Generation tXt project, which was created by area students and is sponsored by the Crime Commission.
Nearly 40 students from five schools organize and participate in advocacy and education efforts through it.
Crime Stoppers by the numbers*
2,727: tips submitted
70: arrests made
162: cases cleared
144: charges filed
$7,775: money awarded
$26,600: value of property recovered
$2,375: value of drugs recovered
*results for January through November 2012
Source: Crime Commission
Original Print Headline: Crime agency making changes
Amanda Bland 918-581-8413
Carol Bush: "It was a good year in that we've seen more people from all four corners of the city" working to prevent crime, the director said