TULSA, Okla. — Some big changes are coming to the Tulsa Police Department in 2022.
After a pandemic, a malware attack against the city, and charges filed against former officers, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin has aspirations for the new year.
"The first is dealing with technology," says Franklin. "We got held back on the ransomware on completing one of our goals and that was records management."
Franklin says the department will offer crime victims an easier way to access their reports and detectives will have a more streamlined way of receiving them.
"Coinciding with that, we have a mobile CAD project where we are putting a mobile computer aided dispatch in the patrol car," Franklin says. "We have a version of it now, but it's only one-directional and only the dispatch can talk to the officer."
Franklin says another new upgrade will allow officers to completely interact with calls.
"We have ARPA money that we are going to be using to purchase our next iteration of body-worn cameras. We are going to do body-worn cameras and hopefully in-car cameras for all of our officers."
He says this will just be another piece of technology to help make their jobs easier.
One of the biggest areas the department is going to work on in 2022 is upgrading the website. Franklin calls it the front door of the department.
"If you go to it now it looks nasty. It's ugly and it's one of the worst websites I've seen. My hope is that we can work with IT and start a redesign of that website," says Franklin.
Another goal Franklin has is to push a traffic safety initiative after a record number of fatality collisions, along with beefing up the department's training.
"We are looking at bringing in more and more training for our young supervisors because we are asking them to make a lot of decisions and we need to make sure they are confident in their decision making."
The department is actively trying to improve all the while officers, and the City of Tulsa, are still reeling from the ransomware attack.
"We were literally handwriting reports for a period of time and then once we got back online, all of those handwritten reports, had to be typed into the system," Franklin says.
On top of battling technical issues, Franklin says one of their biggest challenges is the officer attrition rate.
"Our problem is that we have 800 police officers, and we are losing and attritioning away officers at a rapid rate and we can't bring them on quick enough," states Franklin. "It takes 9 months to get an officer through our academy and into a patrol car to actually be able to help us in our fight."
Due to attrition, Franklin says he anticipates the department will be seeing a lot of officers retire in 2022.
Despite these challenges, he says he is still looking forward to facing them head-on and will this city his very best.
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