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Police need help catching up with OKC growth

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As the skyline continues to change in Oklahoma City, a local department says it needs a little help keeping up with the growth.

The Oklahoma City Police Department is trying to hire more officers to keep up with the ever-changing city.

Chief Bill Citty, with the Oklahoma City Police Department, said, “We updated all of the information because over the last three or four years, you know, population changes, calls for service change, things like that; demographics change."

At a recent city council meeting, Chief Citty updated a 2009 study that revealed the need for 195 police officers, even after the council approved 73 more jobs two years ago.

Citty said, “We’ve added more positions in the past two years but since 1995, we haven’t increased our staff significantly and the population has grown. And obviously, calls for service and crimes have grown, so we need additional officers to deal with the day-to-day operation of the police department.”

Even in 2009, Oklahoma City ranked below many cities in sworn staff per square mile.

At that time, experts found that there were 1.68 officers per mile in Oklahoma City compared to the average 5.33 per mile in other cities.

Chief Citty said, “The example I like to use is when I worked at Vice 30 years ago, we had four officers. Today, we have four officers in that same unit. In those types of things, we need additional people.”

He’s also looking to decrease the time it takes to respond to emergency calls.

Citty says he wants officers to be on the scene of emergency calls in 9 and a half minutes 90 percent of the time rather than the current 70 percent.

He said, “The community is who we provide the service to and the citizens expect a certain level of service from us and we do a real good job of prioritizing. We make sure if there’s life threatening calls, that’s a priority.”

Currently, the police budget for 2013-2014 is at $126.5 million, which makes up 31.6 percent of the general budget, according to the City of Oklahoma City.