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OKC Civic Affairs


Analysis: Police staffing lags in Oklahoma City

by William Crum Published: May 8, 2014
Advertisement is out with an analysis of FBI data showing that, by some measures, police presence lags in Oklahoma City.

The OKC city council has begun discussing how many police positions to add in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The council added 40 positions in the current budget; the city manager’s proposal for 2014-15 is 21, plus seven civilian jobs.

The reports compiled from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, based on 2012 data, show Oklahoma City with 16.8 officers per 10,000 residents, about average for cities with more than 50,000 residents. In those cities, the average is 17.0, said.

Breaking it down by taking figures from cities with comparable populations and from other NBA towns (OKC has about 600,000 residents) shows Oklahoma City generally lags its peers.

Here are some of those cities, with the number of officers per 10,000 residents:

• Baltimore 47.4
• St. Louis 41.5
• Atlanta 40.6
• Cleveland 37.6
• Memphis, Tenn. 36.7
• Boston 33.8
• Cincinnati 33.5
• New Orleans 35.0
• Milwaukee, Wis. 31.8
• Orlando 29.2
• Kansas City, Mo. 27.4
• Miami 25.4
• Houston 24.4
• Columbus, Ohio 22.9
• Salt Lake City 22.1
• Denver 22.1
• Minneapolis 21.8
• Charlotte, N.C. 21.2
• Nashville, Tenn. 21.1
• Seattle 20.6
• Fort Worth 19.9
• Austin 19.5
• Omaha 19.0
• Indianapolis, Ind. 19.0
• Louisville, Ky. 18.6
• Albuquerque 18.0
• Tucson 18.0
• Las Vegas, Nev. 17.3
• Oklahoma City 16.8
• San Antonio 16.5
• Portland, Ore. 16.2
• El Paso 15.3
• Sacramento 13.2

Within the state:

• Tulsa 19.6
• Lawton 17.3
• Midwest City 16.9
• Moore 14.3
• Norman 13.9
• Edmond 13.3
• Broken Arrow 12.0 reports police presence varies greatly across U.S. cities, driven by a range of factors, including call volumes and municipal budgets. One of Oklahoma City’s greatest challenges: policing a city of 621 square miles, among the country’s largest by land area.

Meg Hollis, a Michigan State University assistant professor who researches police staffing, told that some jurisdictions base staffing decisions primarily on how they compare to peer cities. Hollis suggested a deeper analysis, including examination of call volume and the geographic distribution of requests over time.

Under the latest update of OKC’s police manpower study, the department’s “desired” level of service — to assure uniformly quick response to the highest priority calls and provide opportunities for proactive crime-fighting — would bring police ranks up to roughly 22 officers per 10,000 residents, about in the middle of the comparable cities list.

The Police Department says it’s seeing a drop in serious crime, with the number of aggravated assaults falling in 2013 to 3,296. the lowest level since 2007.

Building up the police force is an idea that’s been promoted by the police union and has won favor in community surveys from residents.

Adding 21 uniformed officers in fiscal 2014-15 would bring Oklahoma City’s authorized police ranks to 1,137.

Not all the positions are filled, and won’t be for some time.

By conducting two police academies every 14 to 16 months, the Police Department can account for attrition and retirements and add around 40 officers per year. The department has about 1,030 officers working the streets at the moment.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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