In an effort to decrease response times in the southern half of Oklahoma City, police officials have redrawn division boundaries and soon will relocate about a quarter of the force.
Oklahoma City is currently divided into four divisions: Hefner, Santa Fe, Springlake and Rogers. Each division has about 130 officers, police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
As the division boundaries have been since 1990, the Santa Fe division stretches from the southwest to the southeast, covering about half the city.
But despite the large area, only about a quarter of the officers patrol the area. This has caused a increased response times in some cases, Nelson said, because officers often have to drive long distances to calls.
“It’s a huge area of land,” Nelson said. “It’s not as densely populated as other parts, but there’s lots of new construction in the area, and it’s quickly growing.”
About 130 officers will move
In response to the growing population in the area, officials decided to split Santa Fe into two divisions and move about 130 officers into the southwest part of the city.
The decision was made in 2007 as part of a bond issue that provided the department with financing for its new headquarters downtown, a detox facility and a new division headquarters at 5501 S Portland.
The Southwest division will be from NW 10 south to the city limits and from Pennsylvania and Western avenues west.
Santa Fe will shrink to cover from NW 10 and SW 29 streets south to the city limits and from Western and Pennsylvania avenues east.
The number of officers patrolling the southern half of the city will nearly double, Nelson said.
Larry McAtee, councilman for Ward 3, where the Southwest division will be, said he believes the redistribution of resources will be beneficial for his part of the city.
“The number one priority in my ward is public safety, and this is one step that will help that,” he said.
Will Rogers division, the smallest but most densely populated division that covers downtown, will be divided among the four remaining divisions, and its officers will move to Southwest.
Deputy Chief Tom Jester said each division now will receive about 25 percent of the calls for service, equal to the amount of officers in the area.
“We wanted to divide in such a way where we have the same numbers of calls, officers, cars, and size stations for each part of the city,” Jester said.
The new 10,000-square-foot division headquarters is still under construction, and should be open this summer, Nelson said.
But despite the change in boundaries and relocation of officers, Nelson said most residents won’t notice the change in their every day lives.
“If you call the police, you’re still going to get the police,” Nelson said.