Police Hear Out Mayoral Candidates - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Police Hear Out Mayoral Candidates

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Their jobs are laced with danger, which gives their voices an extra weight when it comes to who they endorse.

"We're concerned about who's going to be our next leader," said Clay Ballenger, Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police president.

One of their top priorities, staffing levels. The department is currently at 780.

"If we could get us in the near future up around 830, 840," he said.

"It's a priority of mine to make sure when I become mayor, that when I immediately go through the budget and find the money to have an academy sooner than later," said Bill Christiansen.

"It's important to have an appropriate number of police officers on the street and we fought hard to do that during the worst economic time our nation's seen and we would do it again," said Kathy Taylor.

And the current mayor's proposal...

"Re-prioritize a very, very small portion of our sales tax towards greatly increasing our capability of adding more police officers and firefighters," said Dewey Bartlett.

Their second priority? Wages. TPD salaries currently rank 13% lower than the average of comparative cities.

"We would at least like to be the average of the cities that we're compared to," said Ballenger.

"Salaries is a very, very important part of the process but it also is a part of the process, there's other thing, work conditions," said Bartlett.

"Today there's $52 million more in the city operating budget than the day I left office, I think we've got the money to make sure our officers are compensated," said Taylor.

"I think that they should be paid a salary that is even with the regional average of cities our size," said Christiansen.

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