Tulsa, Oklahoma, Police Now Responding to Non-Injury Auto Accidents

February 18, 2010

Police in Tulsa, Okla., say they are again responding to noninjury auto accidents.

Police had stopped responding to those accidents and some property crime calls earlier this month after 124 officers were laid off on Jan. 29.

Almost two weeks into the policy, officials realized that it saved more time than they had anticipated, Officer Jason Willingham said. They determined that the department could return to its former collision policy, a move Tulsa residents wanted, Willingham said.

Police Chief Chuck Jordan said that after losing a good portion of his force to layoffs approximately 15 percent of the more than 800 officers he had to take a step back and assess the best use of police resources.

The city laid off the officers due to an on going budget crisis, and the majority of them worked in patrol. Willingham said Feb. 4 that 61 officers had been transferred from other assignments, including the Detective Division, to patrol.

Jordan said his plan from the beginning of the new policy was to reassess the situation after a week, and he said he is happy to see that officers can return to taking some of the calls, as many residents wanted.

“Sometimes people are not going to be happy if we change services in any way, shape or form,” Jordan said.

Willingham said the Police Department did not receive many strong complaints about the change in service. However, it was apparent to officers out in the community that residents wanted police to respond to all automobile crashes, including those in which no one was injured, he said.

“When we made this change, we knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision,” Willingham said. “We knew that going into this. This is something that we obviously intended to go back to. We never wanted to do away with responding to noninjury collisions.”

Police will continue their new policy of not responding to some calls about property crimes such as fraud, larceny and burglary from vehicles unless a suspect is present at the time.

They also will continue not responding to some noninjury collisions that occur on private property, such as in shopping center parking lots, police said.

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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