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Police Chief: new focus unit will benefit the public, officers

During a Monday, Aug. 14 chat session, Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King updated the public on crime stats for July 2023, and upcoming opportunities for officers.

There were approximately 3,100 calls of service and 26 property crimes for the month of July.

“Less than one a day and I think anytime that we can be less than one a day, we’re in a good spot,” King said.

The department’s new fiscal year began July 1 and the chief said they haven’t made any big purchases as negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 201 and the city have yet to happen.

“Until that’s finalized, we really don’t feel comfortable putting in large purchase orders to buy some of the things – the big-ticket items; new Tasers; vehicles; guns; things like that,” he said.

Officers are keeping up with park patrols along with the Tahlequah Fire Department. King said those patrols have made a difference.

Officers have also held a few training courses during the month of July.

“Tahlequah has become almost a regional training center. We’ve been hosting at least one training a month for over a year now, getting some good attendance from neighboring agencies and offering our officers with some training that they otherwise might not get,” King said.

There are two vacancies within the police department, one that’s been hired to fill, and that officers should start sometime next week.

“The other position we may be, depending on budget-wise, we may hold that for a few months. Conserve some money that way. We’re on our modified 12-hour shifts, which we started over a year ago and officers really seem to like that,” King said.

Officers seem to have better coverage with the 12-hour shifts as there are more of them out at a time.

“Officers basically work two eight-hour shifts, two 12-hour shifts, and they’re off for three days. Then we use a day in the middle that everyone is scheduled to work so that’s when we have our meetings and trainings,” King said.

In other business, King said TPD is about to kick off the application deadline for a Strategic Focus Unit wherein officers can apply and be apart of that.

“They’ll do this outside of their normal schedule hours. They’ll come together as a group, six to eight officers and either do special traffic enforcement, park patrol, narcotics investigations, just lots of different things that we can do with that added manpower when they’re not dedicated to taking those calls for service when the phone rings,” he said.

The chief said this would give the younger officers an opportunity to expand their knowledge, training, and experience.

“[It will] also give us some people that can focus on whatever problems facing us at that time, whether it’s big or small,” he said.


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