They're accustomed to difficult situations, comes with the territory of being a cop, but you won't find any crime scene tape or flashing lights at one of their toughest challenges to date."Slap in the face, stab in the back," said Tulsa police union president Clay Ballenger, describing how the membership feels at the hands of the mayor, who has asked the city council to approve a special election in the hopes of overturning their recent contract.
"We've never had an election on a police contract in Tulsa," he said.
Back when regular negotiations hit a roadblock, both sides went to a three person arbitration.
"The city gets to appoint one arbitrator. We appoint one arbitrator of our choice, and then we together choose a neutral arbitrator from a panel," he said.
That panel ruled in favor of the cops who won a 2 1/2% raise for the newer members of the force, with 60% of the force not getting anything at all."I think that the arbitrator has ruled, we ought to stick with what the arbitrator said and move on," said Tulsa city councilor Jack Henderson, none too enthused about the idea of calling for a special election, let alone the price tag associated with it."Ballpark, probably $100,000. Yeah, yeah. another $100,000 something dollars gone to waste because, 'Ah, I didn't like that arbitration lets go to the back door now see what we can do,'" he said.
Election or not, morale says Ballenger, is down, and the recruitment buzz surrounding TPD isn't exactly peachy."On average we have about 250 applicants for the police department annually. This year thru May we've only had less than 30 people apply to be a Tulsa police officer," he said.