OKC Police Department Pushes For More Officers Amid Rise In Crime

Tuesday, October 30th 2012, 10:05 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma City police officials say there is a need for more officers on the streets to combat rising crime in the city. The department is looking at research that puts Oklahoma City on the top ten list when it comes to crime.

Currently, the homicide rate in Oklahoma City is up and burglaries are on the rise. The increase has police chief Bill Citty hoping to expand the force.

Congressional Quarterly has reported that Oklahoma City has the 9th highest crime rate in the United States in cities with populations greater than 500,000 people. That puts Oklahoma City in line with Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. However, police say it's important to not put too much faith in the research because cities report and categorize crimes in different ways.

"It's not a very accurate system as far as comparing one city to the next," Citty said.

The research was released in December of 2011, but it gives residents an idea where Oklahoma City will we rank in just a few months. Things do not seem to be getting better.

"Oklahoma City has actually had a slight increase in violent crime over the last five years," Citty said.

Oklahoma City's standing was determined by the amount of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and vehicle thefts. So far, in 2012, the city has seen nearly 80 homicides.

"That's the most we've had in years and years," Fraternal Order of Police president John George said.

Citty says since 2008, the crime rate has increased 1 to 5 percent each year. Officials say a sure way to battle the rise is by hiring more officers. About 250 officers are desired by the department.

"This community needs more police officers," Citty said.

Oklahoma City residents will need to decide if they want to pay more for additional officers. Sales tax pays officers' salaries. Even if the city decides to dish out more money for more officers, the department says it would take three to four years to increase revenue to get staffing where it is needed.

In October, the city council approved a plan to add 18 more officers to the force, but they won't be on patrol for about a year.