City leaders are spending time with members of the Tulsa Police Department as they continue to work on a sales tax extension.
Saturday night, Mayor Dewey Bartlett went on a ride-along with the Tulsa police officers on the road. He says he does this every four to six months.
Bartlett says his experience Saturday will help him see how long it takes officers to go from one call to another. He says under staffing at the department not only takes a toll on officers, but the public as well.
"People not only must be safe, they must feel safe,” Bartlett said. “And they have to see that there's police officers out protecting them, their families, their property, etc., and when a problem happens, that we react quickly.”
Bartlett is up for re-election this year. His political opponent, City Councilor G.T. Bynum, says he also goes on routine ride-alongs. He feels spending time to see exactly what Tulsa officers are faced with is crucial to understanding what more officers would mean to the department.
"The value of adding these new officers is that it frees up the time for these officers to get to know a particular area, get to know the people in that area, and also get to know the bad actors are that commit crimes over and over again," said Bynum.
Meanwhile, City Councilor Karen Gilbert is part of the task force that created the sales tax proposal. She also tags along with police regularly and says all Tulsans could benefit from expanding police.
"We've heard over and over again, I heard it from constituents many, many times is that you know what, they're tired of waiting and waiting and waiting for either a police officer or even someone to answer 911...for someone to answer their call."
Right now, the proposal would increase the number of police officers on the street by at least 160.
Tulsans will vote on the extension April 5th.
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