Eyes on downtown

A downtown Tulsa watch group is in the works to make the area an even safer place to live, work and visit.



“Downtown Tulsa isn’t like a ‘Law and Order’ episode,” says Tom Baker, manager of the Downtown Coordinating Council.

In fact, less than 2 percent of all reported crimes citywide in 2011 occurred downtown, according to data from the Tulsa Police Department. Of these crimes, larceny, the “crime of opportunity,” was the most prevalent; 383 incidents were reported downtown of 12,070 citywide.

In effort to make downtown an even safer and friendlier place to work and live, the DCC is in the early stages of implementing a Tulsa Downtown Watch, which they hope to implement this year.

Baker says the “Tulsa Downtown Watch is modeled after the very successful Alert Neighbors neighborhood watch program of the Crime Commission.” The public and private partnership between the Crime Commission, the DCC and the neighborhoods and businesses in the area does not replace the emergency function of the police department and 911, but the enhanced communication between law enforcement and area employees and residents is aimed at reducing the opportunities for crime to occur.

The DCC is recruiting block (or building) captains to coordinate communication efforts for a designated area. These captains would be responsible for gathering and disseminating information based on recent suspicions or alerts from neighbors to area residents and law enforcement via an email list.

All downtown community members are welcome to become involved. Watch groups will be formed around any districts that wish to participate, including: Brady Arts, Blue Dome, Central Business District, the new East District, the Deco District and the Gunboat District.

In the meantime, Maj. Tracie Lewis, commander for the TPD’s Gilcrease Division, which covers downtown, advises simple steps to protect oneself and one’s property downtown:

• Eliminate the opportunity by not leaving valuables visible in your car.
• If you live or work downtown, be alert to your surroundings and get to know your neighbors. Notice and report strangers. 
• Don’t leave phones, purses, billfolds, laptops, etc., unattended on your desk. 

For business owners or property managers, Lewis suggests:

• Be vigilant about who enters your building and where visitors can go unescorted.
• Keep the premises well lit, even beyond business hours.
• Eliminate foliage or anything that could provide cover for criminals.
• Be aware of strange vehicles or people not common to the area.

Baker hopes all citizens will venture downtown to experience what the area has to offer.

“I want Tulsans to know that this is their downtown,” he says. “Most places in Tulsa, you can get everything you need within a mile or two of where you live, but there are life experiences that may be in other parts of the city and there’s a world of those downtown.

“From the event center to ONEOK Field, all the restaurants to the Jazz Hall of Fame, there is so much to do to enrich your life.”

To join the Tulsa Downtown Watch, email Baker at tbaker@cityoftulsa.org.

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