|Updated: 6/01/2012 5:49 pm
||Published: 6/01/2012 5:39 pm
It’s graduation day for the Tulsa Police Academy.
”It’s a great day for the city, it’s a great day for the police department. We are very proud to have these young men and women and they are going to be a big asset to us,” said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan.
Twenty-five new officers graduated from the academy on Friday.
Among them are an officer from Puerto Rico, two second generation law enforcement and the wife of a TPD officer.
Despite the new officers TPD will still have a shortage of officers. Neighbors said new officers are better than none.
They take an oath to protect and serve.
"I always wanted to be a police officer,” said Officer Ricardo Jimenez.
He’s a new officer who wears the TPD badge with honor. He left his home country of Puerto Rico to join the ranks of TPD.
"I left everything back home. I left my family, my house, I left everything. I came here to do this, to pursue my dream,” said Jimenez.
He will also help a minority group who is known to fear police.
"It will help the streets to serve the Hispanic community it's a huge deal here,” said Jimenez.
Officer Jimenez and 25 officers are desperately needed to patrol the streets.
"We need them quite frankly,” said Jordan.
There is a manpower shortage among the Tulsa Police Department.
With the the 25 new officers there are 745 officers on the force. In 2009 there was a two-year hiring freeze and a new class of 40 officers was not added until July 2011.
Several officers have retired or left for other jobs.
Authorized strength is 781 officers but that still leaves the Department a little more than three dozen short.
Alert Neighbors such as Donna Lee who lives in the Maxwell Neighborhood Association in Northeast Tulsa said she continues to step up and help police.
"We need to be able to help the officers by calling the police when there are things going on. When we hear shots fired, or if we see some strange car in the neighborhood. We really need to let them know so they will be aware of it” said Lee.
When you look at just the crime statistics and manpower, it shows more officers are keeping residents safe.
TPD said before (April 2011-October 2011) the 40 new officers were on their own in November, there were 16,520 violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft) reported in a six-month period.
Since those officers were cut loose in November 2011, violent crimes went down 11 %.
"By helping them it helps catch the bad guys,” said Lee.
It may be a couple more years until there are enough officers on TPD.
"Hopefully by 2014 we will be back to where I want to be to adequately and proactively police our city,” said Jordan.
A class of 43 officers is scheduled to start the academy in July and the Chief said he hopes for another class in December.
TPD is also taking applications for reserve officers.
They are required to attend a state-certified reserve academy held in Tulsa. The classes are two nights a week for five months.
To apply you must be 21, have no felony convictions and have a high school diploma or GED.
To learn more call the recruiting hotline at (800) 688-6848.
There were also two Tulsa firefighters who graduated from the TPD academy to become fire marshals.
"It will help us with our investigation techniques, suspect apprehension,” said TFD Fire investigator John Boysel.
Fire marshals have the same police power as officers.