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Local & Regional

$20M a Year to Hire Recommended Number of Additional Tulsa Cops

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A recent study recommended Tulsa hire more than 200 additional police officers, and that would come with a big price tag.

The city finance department determined the additional officers alone will cost Tulsa $18 million a year. That doesn’t include capital costs tied to hiring more cops.

"If you don't do that, you're more in the neighborhood of $2.5 million just on the vehicle side that needs to be added in," said Finance Director Mike Kier. "So I would say $20 [million]."

And hiring more police officers would probably lead to additional costs for hiring positions that directly or indirectly support the police department.

"You end up in lawsuits just because you're running a police function. You should expect that," Kier said. "Well, if you're going to add, effectively, 200 more officers, you need to think about whether we need another attorney."

A current public safety funding proposal would use 0.2 percent of a potential Vision renewal, 0.55 percent of additional use tax revenue the city would gain and 0.1 percent of Improve Our Tulsa funds. Councilor Phil Lakin said city councilors need to consider how that would be allocated to police, fire and streets.

"And that's the other variable, too. You could say, 'Well, we need to assign more to police,'" Lakin said. "Somebody said it's 55 percent. Maybe it's 65 percent, or maybe it's some other variation."

A finance department report on how the current proposal fits the staffing recommendations said the city would be $15 million short for the new cops over 15 years.

Councilors and the mayor will discuss how to move forward during a December retreat.

Tulsa’s Young Professionals want the city to leave Vision funds out of the public safety funding discussion. TYPros Chair Evan Tipton said the organization’s members want Vision funding to go toward enhancing downtown, visionary building projects and public transportation.

"Simply adding safety to the small bucket of Vision funds will not suffice," Tipton said. "Safety is an economic development driver, and we believe that so much that our leadership team feels safety deserves its own dedicated stream of funds."

Tipton said TYPros sees public safety as a priority but believes improving access to jobs, healthcare and education can also benefit public safety.