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TPD's head of homicide credits community for 97% solve rate

Posted at 10:27 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 23:29:39-04

TULSA, Okla. — A 24/7, 365 operation is how the head of Tulsa’s homicide unit describes the work. That dedication translates into a nearly perfect murder solve rate, 97% in 2019. Out of 28 homicides in 2020, two are unsolved.

“I think a big part of the reason that we solve so many cases is because of the community,” said Lieutenant Brandon Watkins, the leader of Tulsa Police Department’s Homicide Unit. “Tulsa is filled with people who want to do the right thing, want to see the right thing done. A lot of problems a lot of other communities have [are] where they think they don’t like police, so they don’t talk to police.”

There are nine detectives on TPD’s homicide unit. One is working on cases that go as far back as the 70’s.

“I don’t solve the cases, it’s those detectives out there who solve the cases,” Lt. Watkins said.

The unit’s solve rate has a history of hovering in the 80% range. The range for the national average is in the sixties.

“We do really well and as the Peggy Gaytan case would show, we don’t really ever give up,” Watkins said.

Peggy Gaytan's case is one of the recent ones Watkin’s unit made an arrest for. Gaytan was shot and killed eight years ago while working at a midtown Tulsa convenience store. Leads in her case went nowhere, until a new tip came in.

Watkins said, “It’s nice to know that the community backs you. We keep working for years after the case because we want to bring peace of mind to the family.”

Lt. Watkins joined TPD 23 years ago and became head of the homicide unit in August 2018.

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