TPD sets new hiring goal of 51 officers
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, March 02, 2013
3/02/13 at 7:00 AM
What would it take for the Tulsa Police Department to reach the staffing levels that an independent consultant recommended five years ago?
Here's the short answer: The city would need to fund five 30-member police academies in the next 2 1/2 years. That number would offset attrition of about 15 officers annually and allow TPD to begin building toward the consultant's recommendation of a police force with 999 sworn officers - 109 more than the 779 on staff now.
Chief Chuck Jordan has a more immediate goal - to have 830 officers by the middle of the next fiscal year. That is the same number of officers the city had in 2008.
Jordan said that he's tried to be realistic about budgets. When the economic downturn hit three years ago, the police department had to scale back, enduring layoffs. For two years, 2011 and 2012, no academies were held.
There comes a point when the city must actually increase the police force, Councilor G.T. Bynum said. Otherwise the city would continue to fund police at the general rate of inflation, which covers attrition of about 15 officers a year. "...We end up with a smaller police force than we did 10 years ago, which is what we have right now."
Mayor Dewey Bartlett has said that he's committed to maintaining a regular stream of academies as funding allows.
If the public were polled, a strong, adequately staffed police force would be high among citizen priorities. Public safety along with a good public education system and solid infrastructure are what residents and prospective residents expect from their city.
Bigger is not always better but when it comes to police forces bigger often is better because additional officers offer more patrols, especially in problem spots such as the 61st Street and Peoria Avenue area, where a quadruple murder occurred two months ago.
With any luck revenues will continue to grow, assuring regular police academies with well-trained officers. The ideal, however, would be enough funding to make those academies either bigger or more frequent so that Tulsa could reach the staffing levels recommended by the consultant a half-decade ago.
Original Print Headline: 999 Officers