OCSO FOP Asks For Full Funding During Press Conference On Newly Proposed Jail Trust
OKLAHOMA COUNTY - It’s a fight for funding.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Fraternal Order of Police held a press conference to announce they will support a newly proposed jail trust, as long as they're budget isn't cut.
FOP members are calling on Oklahoma County commissioners to make that promise, before they sign on.
“We would like commissioners to stand-up and say we are going to fully fund our sheriff's office,” said FOP Member Paul Harmon.
The FOP estimates the sheriff’s office budget is $10.5 million. They add that can vary from year to year, depending on various income, like inmate calls and other items.
Members want commissioners to state in writing that their budget will be secure if the jail trust is approved. They said without that money their agency and unincorporated communities, that are nor part of any particular town, will suffer.
“Who will answer the 911 call? Who will respond to your emergencies, and how long will it take for them to get there to help you?” asked Harmon. “When a crime occurs such as a murder, and assault, or a property crime, who will investigate it?
County Commissioner Brian Maughan said they are still evaluating the needs of the agency. He adds there will always be deputies working in the unincorporated communities of Oklahoma County.
“It's constitutional that we have to provide law enforcement to unincorporated. So, any suggestion that that will go away, it's really preposterous that if someone were to call 911, no one would answer the call,” Maughan said.
Right now, the jail trust is a working draft that has not been approved. It’s current language states the current draft for the trust would mean one commissioner, a sheriff, and seven citizens could allocate funding and resources.
Members of the FOP are extremely anxious that their resources will be slashed if a jail trust is created. They believe, if approved, the trust would take resources from law enforcement and allocate that to the jail.
Members of the FOP took a day off work to canvass neighborhoods. Their mission was to urge voters to call their commissioners and ask them to support the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.
“If law enforcement is gutted to support the financially crumbling jail, nearly 160 approximate employees won't have jobs. We will be left with nothing,” said Harmon.
Maughan continues to remind voters that the county's first responsibility is to the jail. But, before they can improve conditions, staffing or build anything new, he said they need more transparency.
Maughan says that’s a primary concern for those in Oklahoma County.
“Not until you put some kind of citizen oversight committee in place, are we even going to talk to you about plans to go forward with a public initiative to ask for more tax money,” said Maughan.
Commissioners could vote on the jail trust as early as Wednesday, May 15.