OKC Police Chief Asking City Council To Add More Officers

Tuesday, May 6th 2014, 5:40 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma City's police chief is wanting more money and more officers on the street to deal with the city's growing population and the problems that come with it.

He's asking the city council to approve a proposal that would add 21 officers to the force in 2015. The chief tells News 9 adding more police officers to the force really has made a big impact on both violent and gang related crime.

In fact he says last year alone, the number of gang related homicides and assaults was cut in half.

"You can already see the results from the different programs," said Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.

The chief of police has big dreams for this big league city. He wants to put more officers on the street in Bricktown and downtown Oklahoma City to deal with panhandlers and homeless population. The chief is also asking to make a pilot gang unit program permanent - with around the clock patrols in gang infested neighborhoods.

"In many cases we are able to identify those suspects and get those suspects in custody more quickly with this additional gang unit," said Citty.

But many in law enforcement say even more officers are needed to get a handle on the growing population and crime rate.

"The problem really was we went 20 years without adding manpower," said John George, the president of Oklahoma City's Fraternal Order of Police. "And now we are trying to catch up and that's just hard to do."

George says for years the department was only able to respond to crimes - instead of being able to do proactive police work to drive down the crime rate.

"We need to start thinking outside the box," said George. "Figuring out ways to get more officers hired get them trained and get them out in the streets where they can be effective."

George agrees with the chief - that the city needs 1,306 officers today to effectively police the city. Right now the force stands at about 1030 officers including the 42 recruits that just graduated this May.

"I mean we are making progress," said George. "And I'm thankful to the council that they keep adding positions but 7-8 years from now. We might get to that 1,306 and then we are going to need 1400."

The Oklahoma City Council members will be making a decision on whether to approve the addition of those 21 officers and the rest of the police budget next month.

Police are asking the city council to approve a budget of a little more than 207 million dollars for 2015. The chief says that's a 4.74 percent increase over this year.