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Tulsa Police Department sees drop in recruiting

Tulsa police
Posted at 9:07 AM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 12:59:56-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Police Department is looking to add 100 officers to the force.

Numbers are down due in part to retirement and lack of recruiting due to Covid.

It's a problem police departments across the country are seeing. There are documented staffing shortages in Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Minneapolis.

Police unions and officers in those cities also point to some police reform measures that they believe make it harder to recruit.

Tulsa police and sheriff's office are working to address issues brought up by things like Derek Chauvin's conviction in the death of George Floyd and questions about police training.

Being a police officer can be challenging, but officers told 2 News it could be rewarding.

"In order to get up and leave my family and go to work for 8-10 hours a day, I want to do a job that matters," said Officer Kelsy Brownell.

Police Chief Wendell Franklin is working hard to attract the best to his department.

"Right now, we have about 820 officers in our department. Just a few months ago, we were like right around 860," said Chief Franklin.

TPD lost multiple officers to retirement, and that, among other things, has resulted in a reduced force. Not only that, due to Covid, the department couldn't recruit at college campuses.

"We run three academies a year, and we are slated for 30 people in each academy, but we have not been able to meet that because just trying to go out and recruit and trying to get people interested in this profession is very difficult in this moment in time," said Chief Franklin.

The lack of recruits is forcing the chief and others to get creative, and one way he is doing that is by using social media.

The department is considering changes like incentives to get people in and looking at the bachelor's degree requirement.

Chief Franklin said the jury is out on many things right now, but they are putting everything on the table and trying to choose the best options and keep what TPD has unique.

The department has several different specialty units officers can be a part of after a certain amount of time on the force:

  • Special Operations Team
  • Air Support
  • Bomb Squad
  • Cyber Crimes
  • K-9 Patrol
  • Dive Team
  • Motorcycle Squad
  • Detective Division
  • Special Investigations

Brownell has been on the force for a year and a half but loves her job.

"We are all a big family. Law enforcement must be that way. You have to go to work, and you don't know if you're going to come home, so you are very close with the people that you work with, and they are kind of the most important part of the job," she said.

While her job is rewarding and fulfilling, she is blatantly honest about one fact.

"The most difficult thing about my job is the fact that my husband and I both are in this department, and it's not knowing whether or not we are going to go home," said Brownell.

Despite her fear, the call to serve remains great, and she hopes others will step in and take an active role in serving the community.

"We are missing all of those really great officers we lost to retirement but good for them. I can't say that I blame them. We could just use some fresh faces and some fresh talent," she said.

2 News Oklahoma learned the Tulsa Police Department is working to increase its pay scale to be more competitive with surrounding agencies. For more information on becoming a Tulsa police officer, you can visit

WATCH the full story on 2 News Oklahoma after the Olympics.

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