Our Public Safety
Public Safety is the most vital role of any municipal government.
Our Public Safety
class="headline">Public Safety is the most vital role of any municipal government.
I have focused a great deal of my first term on public safety. Our police officers and firefighters must know we support them and that they will have the resources they need to do their jobs.
In my first month as mayor, we had 735 police officers in our department. I worked with the City Council to ensure funding for record-sized academies in each of the last three budgets. This has been the greatest surge in staffing for the Police Department in Tulsa history, and today we stand at over 860 police officers - a 17.8 percent increase that represents over 130 additional officers making Tulsa safer. We will continue at this pace until we reach the proper number of officers to best protect the citizens of Tulsa.
We opened Tulsa’s first Sobering Center allowing people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction to receive treatment rather than jail time. In my first year as mayor and in conjunction with our commitment to use data driven methods to address issues, we found that the number one thing we arrest people for on municipal charges is public intoxication. The Sobering Center allows officers the ability to arrest offenders and take them to jail or to take them to the Center where at the end of their stay, they are offered the resources needed for treatment. So far, over 1,000 people have utilized this facility thereby addressing the root cause of the arrest or in many cases repetitive arrests and in turn saving our officers’ time and saving the taxpayer’s money as the treatment center is less expensive than a jail visit.
I believe we have the best police department in the nation. And it’s because of our extraordinary and committed officers that we are able to implement one of the most comprehensive community policing programs in the country. Over 75 different initiatives are being implemented by the Tulsa Police Department through this program and we strive to be the gold standard for community policing nationwide.
We piloted the innovative Better Way Program to reduce panhandling. Under the program, panhandlers are offered an honest days’ pay for an honest days’ work while simultaneously receiving access to programs from social service agencies, most notably job counseling. Hundreds of applicants have since found employment as a result of the program, hundreds have found access to the services they need, and over 54,000 pounds of trash have been cleaned up.
In the Tulsa Fire Department, we have gone through a similar hiring increase to properly staff the Department - and the results have been clear. During my first term as mayor, Tulsa earned the highest possible rating for fire safety from the Insurance Services Office, marking the Tulsa Fire Department as one of the best in the United States, and making a positive impact on insurance costs for businesses and homeowners.
When it comes to making Tulsa the safest city it can be, we still have so much more to do. We will not relent in our pace of hiring for police officers until the Tulsa Police Department is fully staffed. We will continue to seek out the most innovative ideas for improved public safety, and we will be recognized for having the best police officers and firefighters in the nation. Through innovative work and collaboration, we will address Tulsa’s growing homelessness problem.
Of course, this spring, our city, nation, and world have faced an additional threat to our safety and public health. Working to stem the spread of COVID-19 has been the toughest task I have faced as mayor. There are no easy decisions. Taking actions which restrict economic activity is not in my DNA, but public safety has been and always will be my top priority.
Working together, we are on the right path. Just as Tulsa has persevered and thrived through other calamities, I know we will again. I want to thank every Tulsan who has put the lives of your neighbors first. Your actions have been part of one of the greatest collective humanitarian efforts in history. All of the local metrics I have seen indicate you have saved thousands of your neighbors' lives from this historical and unprecedented global pandemic.