, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

February 5, 2013

Group wants changes for tough Tulsa neighborhood

— TULSA — Investing in a new records management system to better share intelligence among local law enforcement agencies and exploring public-private partnerships to publicize the city's anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line are among seven recommendations made Tuesday by a public safety group assembled after the shooting deaths last month of four women in a crime-plagued Tulsa neighborhood.

The so-called Public Safety Intelligence Working Group, which has met four times and has included police officers, community leaders and politicians, expects to submit its findings this week to the full City Council. Officials have not determined the cost of the recommendations or who would pay for them.

Other recommendations include exploring the cost of bringing the Crime Stoppers call center in-house so that it's no longer outsourced to an out-of-state firm; placing Crime Stoppers literature in citizens' upcoming utility bills and as a banner link on the city's website and printing business cards with Crime Stoppers information for all police patrol officers to distribute in neighborhoods they are working.

The public safety group was hastily formed after police discovered 23-year-old twin sisters Rebeika Powell and Kayetie Melchor, 33-year-old Misty Nunley and 55-year-old Julie Jackson dead Jan. 7 at an apartment on the city's south side. No arrests have been made, and investigators have released no other details — including possible suspects, how the women knew each other or why they may have been targeted.

The area on the city's south side where the women were discovered has seen a spike in homicides and other crimes in recent years, according to police statistics.

The past meetings have revealed several limitations on how police use the tips that come into the Crime Stoppers hotline.  For one, many Tulsa residents are afraid to call Crime Stoppers, which has a slim advertising budget that it can use to assure people they will remain anonymous.  And when tips do filter in, some are handled by an antiquated records management system built in-house by city engineers in the late 1970s that has showed its age in recent years.

"I ran into city councilors who didn't know what Crime Stoppers does," said Councilman G.T. Bynum, who is leading the public safety group and represents the district where the four women were killed.

Carol Bush, director of the Crime Prevention Network, said Tuesday she welcomed any prospect of a funding partnership between her agency and cities like Tulsa. She said a beefed-up Crime Stoppers program wouldn't be dedicated just to saturating the area where the women were shot last month, but the entire city.

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