Police Union Advocates For More Officers, Says Patrol Ranks Haven’t Matched Oklahoma City’s Growth

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma City’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123 has introduced a website, www.protectokc.com, to advocate for more officers.

The site includes information on department staffing and the chief’s study on the need for additional officers.

The site’s introduction says that while Oklahoma City’s population has increased in the past 20 years, “the number of officers responding to 911 calls has not changed.”

protectokc.com includes links to recent press coverage of police staffing issues and a Q&A under the heading “frequently asked questions.”

The latest version of the chief’s staffing study, now about four years old, concluded Oklahoma City should have 1,311 officers. Current manpower is more than 200 officers short of that total.

The city council has prepared a “statement of intent” that a proposed quarter-cent, permanent sales tax be used to hire 129 police officers.

The quarter-cent sales tax is projected to raise about $26 million per year.

Proceeds also would go to hire 42 firefighters and could be used to fund day-to-day operations in other city departments.

The FOP’s longtime position has been that a dedicated tax is needed assure the Police Department has the officers it needs.

Key words

Several terms are key to understanding the FOP’s position on the need for more officers:

• Permanent: A permanent sales tax would continue indefinitely. The MAPS sales taxes, as approved by voters, set a date when collections end. The 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax expires at the end of this year.

• Intent: The city council adopts measures declaring its intent for how proceeds of sales taxes such as the MAPS 3 sales tax will be spent. While key to credibility, those statements are non-binding.

• Dedicated: The police union prefers a sales tax that is dedicated to public safety — that is, approved by voters for the express purpose of funding police and fire operations. That is binding on the council.

It’s worth noting that FOP Lodge 123 has pending grievances over minimum staffing levels.

From The Oklahoman

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