Tulsa police, city leaders working to find new ways to recruit officers

TULSA, Okla. (KOKI) — Tulsa police and Tulsa city councilors met Wednesday to discuss what has become a crisis in recruitment and retention within the city’s police force on multiple levels.

Some of the issues TPD is facing are a mixture of multiple retirements, social stigma against police officers lately, and the most noticeable being a persistent discrepancy in the pay between officers in Tulsa and surrounding communities and also a difference between Tulsa and other cities of its size across the country.

Last week, Tulsa city councilors approved of a 4% retention bonus for city employees as a way to boost morale among city workers across the board. Councilors were told it was a very positive step for retention, but more incentives are needed to keep officers from leaving.

In some cases, TPD officers are making $24,000 less than their counterparts in Broken Arrow and Owasso.

TPD is working to recruit officers from cities like Seattle where defund the police efforts are causing those who want to be police officers to look elsewhere to continue their law enforcement careers, but councilors were told that until pay structure and the bonus system improves, Tulsa would continue to lose to places like Las Vegas and other places where their pay structures are more beneficial.

Tulsa Police has prided itself as being an agency that requires a bachelors degree from its applicants, but it was mentioned that recruitment is so bad that the requirement could be lowered to an associates degree soon.

With TPD’s maximum recruitment age being 46, there are also going to be new efforts to reach out to middle aged adults who mistakenly thought their time to apply for a police job had come and gone.

For now, councilors were told that TPD is trimming back on investigative units to make sure there are still plenty of officers on patrol at a given time.

Councilors said they need to see from police and their union (the fraternal order of police) what ideal pay scale they are thinking about so they could rectify the situation and be more competitive with surrounding communities.

State lawmakers passed a bill in the last session that gives cities more latitude in how they find public safety measures, and councilors said they were ready to study what their new options are.

Out of 43 applicants in the recent round of recruiting, only 11 met the qualifications and a security clearance requirements to proceed to the academy.