Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation
BCJI Funding Year: FY2020
BCJI Awardee: City of Tulsa
Research Partner: Jam K. Enterprises, LLC
Focus Area: Eugene Field - Population 3,082
Challenges: Violent Crime
Historically, Eugene Field (EF) and River West have experienced decades of disinvestment due to their isolated geography, largely working-class population, proximity to large industrial facilities including the main railroad connection, and Tulsa’s marque oil refineries. While EF is located less than one mile from the downtown core and is separated by the Arkansas River, residents have historically been relocated to work at these industrial facilities.
The neighborhood is dominated by severely distressed subsidized housing, all situated in super blocks that are unfriendly to pedestrian traffic. The neighborhood consists of the public housing properties Riverview Park Apartments and LaFortune Tower, as well as the Section 8 affordable housing complexes of Brightwaters Apartments and Western Pines. Residents have experienced low rates of mobility to homeownership in the neighborhood. Today, some of EF’s major challenges include a lack of high-quality housing and scarce retail and commercial activity. Residents lack access to high quality food sources and low pedestrian connectivity.
EF’s resident demographics are distinct from the greater Tulsa metropolitan surrounding area (MSA), primarily in the ratio of white to non-white residents. While Tulsa has a 72 percent white population, EF has a 54 percent White, 22 percent Black, and 24 percent Latino population, respectively. EF has a median age group that is younger than the overall city, with 29 percent of the population between ages 25-44 compared to Tulsa MSA’s 26.3 percent. EF’s median income is significantly lower than the rest of Tulsa at $17,934. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, Tulsa MSA’s median income was roughly 1.5 times higher at $50,023. Just over 53 percent of residents in EF live below the poverty rate and unemployment is approximately 5 times higher than Tulsa MSA (18.3 percent).
While the EF neighborhood consists of 0.8 percent of the population of the City of Tulsa, it sustains 2 percent of all violent crimes within the city. Violent crimes in the community have increased at a rate of 12 percent since 2017 compared to a decrease of 3 percent across the city. The community accounted for 1 percent of all calls for service for the city, with substantial increases over the past two years: disturbances, assaults, assaults involving a weapon, assaults involving a deadly weapons, burglary, and suspicious activity increased by 12 percent, 25 percent, 9 percent, 33 percent, 16 percent, and 23 percent, respectively.
The City of Tulsa’s main goals are to reduce violent and property crimes, increase community engagement, increase the capacity of resident-driven crime reduction measures, and enhance neighborhood safety.
Using a continuum of policing strategies to address serious and violent crime, this project will focus on activities that center on youth enrichment and education, crime prevention through community engagement and education, crime prevention and enforcement through engagement and accessibility, and crime enforcement through investigation and data-driven precision.
The project plans to address these items through the following strategies:
- Extensive community engagement and social services established through the Choice Neighborhood Grant by using the Community Engagement Unit to develop and implement programs to address juvenile delinquency through after-school and summer activities.
- School and community resource officer programs to ensure consistent presence inside the schools and throughout the community to facilitate drug and gang resistance educational programs, lead micro-area community forums, and support neighborhood watch meetings.
- A community-oriented policing model via a newly formed bike patrol team to provide intentional outreach.
- The Special Investigations Division will provide data-driven, placed-based patrols to address crime gun incidents, organized gang activity, narcotics, and human trafficking.
Other Key Partners
Tulsa Police Department, City of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, Northern Oklahoma U.S. Attorney Trent Shores, Tulsa Housing Authority
This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.