City leaders want tax extension to use for public safety

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Story by: Janai Norman
Updated: 6/17/2013 1:09 pm Published: 6/17/2013 12:56 pm

Mayor Dewey Bartlett says he wants you to decide what the local government does with you money.

The 2013-2014 fiscal year budget is approved and offers two police academies and more officers on the streets.

Mayor Bartlett says, “Now we need to look at sustaining those commitments.”

At a meeting with city leaders including the police chief, fire chief, and director of streets and stormwater, Mayor Bartlett said he wants the city council to vote this week to let voters decide to extend the “Four to Fix” money he says could provide 70 additional police officers and 45 new fire fighters above what's already in the budget, plus three new crews to focus on streets.

But is it enough?

The fire chief says he was recommended he would need 148 more firefighters, he says right now there's enough for three in each of these trucks, but ideally, you would want four or five.

“That's a lot of money, that's a lot of people,” Fire Chief Ray Driskell said. “The mayor has come up with this plan to say this is something we can do until then, until we can get you where we want to be.”

Police Chief Chuck Jordan says before budget concerns, his staff had foot beats, more school resource officers and street crime units.

“It was intelligence led policing at its finest,” he said of the programs. “We don't have those now, and not having those is just a tremendous hindrance.”

Chief Jordan says traditionally the force loses about 30 or 40 police officers to retirement and other jobs each year--that's about the size of a police academy class.

Streets and Stormwater Department Director Dan Crossland said, “When those cuts have to be made, that's where the impact comes.”

Now the mayor wants the public to decide whether to extend the .167 tax and help alleviate those cuts.
That depends on a positive vote from the council, as well as voters, but if they say no, Mayor Bartlett says, “That will make thinks more difficult, plain and simple.”

He went on to say,”Let's hope they don't do that, we will deal with it at that time, let's wait until November.”

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 6/17/2013 2:54 PM
1 Vote
The fact that TPD wants to funnel more funding into specialty units (as opposed to street patrols) should ring alarm bells. This is politics, not public safety.

Unwashed Mass - 6/17/2013 2:52 PM
1 Vote
The reason we no longer have a "Street Crimes" unit (AKA Vice Squad) is because they were corrupt as sin. The "funding cut" is a half-truth.
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