Local law enforcement agencies seeing both rise, fall in applicants

NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA, Okla. — Local law enforcement agencies across Green Country have been experiencing a lack of applicants, in part due to recent police perception.

In comparison to recent years, Tulsa, Owasso and Sand Springs police say they have seen a large decrease in applicants and are saying it could get worse before it gets better.

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin says as of right now, they have 10 viable applicants. Franklin says he believes it’s partly due to police perception. Franklin also goes on to say that if police reform legislation were to get passed, the lack of applicants could get worse, before it gets better.

Owasso Deputy Chief of Police Jason Woodruff says they have experienced a big decrease of applicants over the last 10 years. He says they usually receive around 300 applicants for law enforcement positions but as of right now, they are only getting about 50 applicants.

Sand Springs Police Capt. Todd Enzbrenner says they have also had a large drop in applicants over the course of the last year, in part to what what is also recent perception of police.

Statistics from Sand Springs police show that from a position posted in February 2020 and closing October 2020, only 46 of the 2,500 people who viewed the job applied. Leaving the agency with only 2% of applicants to review.

The number of applicants continued to decrease for Sand Springs police this year with only a recent 1% pool of applicants. Out of the 1,471 people who viewed the position that was posted in February 2021 and recently closed on April 2021, only 18 people applied.

While many agencies may be struggling to fill positions, some are not.

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton says he is not seeing a decrease of deputy applicants due to civil unrest with law enforcement.

Walton says he credits Rogers County for being a pro-law enforcement county. He also says his department is smaller than most, and does not get as many applicants. Walton says he has not loosened requirements for deputy applicants in light of the civil unrest.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Foster says in the last three years they have seen an increase with their number of applicants.

They usually hire around 60 or more troopers from a pool of applicants. Applicant numbers released from over the recent years show a steady increase for Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Applicant Numbers:

  • Year 2020: 795 applicants
  • Year 2019: 771 applicants
  • Year 2017: 761 applicants

Foster says he doesn’t think they are as affected by recent scrutiny that is happening in law enforcement communities.