OKLAHOMA CITY – A new report ranks Oklahoma City near the top of the list of crime-ridden cities.
The Oklahoma City chief of police said the problem boils down to one main issue, the city needs more officers.
“We’ve basically had the same number of officers that we’ve had for 20 years,” OKC Fraternal Order of Police President John George said.
OKC ranks number nine in the country of crime per capita ahead of some of the biggest city’s known for crime like Houston which comes in at number 10.
“Oklahoma City has actually had an increase in violent crime really over the last five years,” OKC Chief of Police Bill Citty said.
Holding steady at anywhere from a three to five percent increase each year, the chief said there are only so many officers that go through the academy but not at a rate that they can fill vacancies.
For two years, OKC has not hired officers and now the city is playing catch up to replace them.
“I think the 1,076 we have allotted is not enough people but we’re 113 below that number,” George said. “We probably need another 100 officers on top of that.”
It costs the city more than $1 million to hire 18 police officers, that’s including benefits and retirement.
“The bottom line is the community is going to have to decide if they’ll support that because, right now, the only way we get that is sales tax,” Citty said.
Budget cuts forced the department to freeze hiring. During that time, vacancies went up to about 100.
“Right now we’re carrying more vacancies than we have during my whole time in the last nine years as chief,” he said.
In the end, the city council holds the power over hiring more officers.