TPD rookies on their own by Sunday

None — Thirty-nine new Tulsa Police officers will hit the streets on their own starting Sunday, meaning there will be more squad cars on the street and more officers responding to calls.

However, the Tulsa Police Department is still 37 officers short of the authorized strength.

At 9 p.m. there were 22 calls for police service, 33% were holding such as a domestic in progress, disturbance and shots heard.

All calls that are considered serious.

An hour after rookie Officer Tyler Cox started his shift there were 29 calls for an officer.  “If we had a shooting call right now all of these calls will have to wait,” says Cox’ training officer Josh Ledbetter.

Moments later a call of a man at Murdock Villa armed with a knife making homicidal statements is called into the radio.

"Now you get an injury accident at Pine and Phoenix. All the other lower priority are going to start sinking down,” says Ledbetter.

Such as burglary calls that are not in progress.

Officer Cox is not new to investigations. He worked with the Secret Service for two years and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

However, what is new to him are so many calls and so few officers.  "It was a big eye opener how much the Tulsa Police Department needs the manpower,” says Cox.

Officer Cox is one of 39 rookies now on the force which TPD and the community hopes will impact response time.

"When the people cal 911 they want help and they want it right then. I hope to be that person that can solve their problems,” says Cox.

Still short on manpower the new officers are expected to carry a heavy load.  "There's definitely more pressure. I definitely feel there's due to short numbers we have to hit the ground running we can't miss a beat. We more or less have to work like we have been on the streets and on the police department like a veteran does” says Cox.

Cox is assigned to adam squad in north Tulsa. One of the Tulsa’s notorious areas for serious crimes.  "Being in such a high crime area I hope I can get the more violent criminals off the street,” says Cox.

He also wants to calm frustrated neighbors.

"That's the hardest thing is to convey to the citizens we're not just sitting around and ignoring their types of calls,” says Cox.

His training officer who is a veteran officer notices the frustrations too and says he encourages officers to empathize with neighbors.

"When it takes hours for us to get there because something else jumped in front of it, it is very difficult to explain it to them because in their world that is the worst thing,” says Ledbetter.

There are ten officers in Cox’s squad and half of them are all rookies from the academy.

TPD supervisors say a new class of 30 start on December 1


and but they won’t be on their own until August, 2012.

With an average of three officers retiring a month that only puts an estimated three new officers on the entire force.

TPD is planning for a new academy of 30 officers in June, 2012 but it has not been approved.

To learn how to report a crime without calling an officer to the scene click on the attached link that will connect you to the FOX23 News Crime page.