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TPD Chief: Violent Crime up But Reforms Being Implemented in Challenging 2020

Matt Trotter

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin says violent crime is up in the city.

Franklin called a news conference Tuesday to give some of TPD's stats. He said compared to the same period in 2019, homicides in 2020 are up 14% to 19%, and assaults on officers are up 40%. Franklin said domestic violence calls involving strangulation are also high, though this year’s 446 so far weren’t compared to last year.

"There’s this phenomenon that appears to be occurring in Tulsa and across our nation which has not yet before been seen. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, maybe, that’s knocked everything off kilter," Franklin said.

Franklin said the increases come as officers deal with what would be a difficult year without the coronavirus. They’ve handled the high-profile death of two children and the first on-duty killing of a Tulsa police officer in almost 24 years.

Franklin said despite a challenging 2020, he is trying to introduce reforms. Franklin said in a recent department-wide shift change, he made sure to address a shortage of supervisors in the patrol division.

"We believe that this is going to make for safer call response for our patrol officers and, hopefully, garner better customer service support to our citizens," Franklin said.

Franklin said he recently added a civilian position to his office to review use of force incidents, though not along the lines of an Office of the Independent Monitor proposed by Mayor G.T. Bynum.

"So, what process improvements can we make to our use of force, how we capture use of force data. Also, how that data flows through the network that we have in place," Franklin said.

Franklin said TPD is focusing on holding officers accountable through internal affairs investigations, including for a recent incident where eight officers fired more than 60 rounds at a man with a knife.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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