The Fraternal Order of Police representing Oklahoma City officers has filed another grievance against the Oklahoma City Police Department over how the department handles minimum staffing.
The OKC FOP filed the letter late last week, and the OKC Chief of Police responded the next day saying minimum staffing is not part of the collective bargaining agreement with the FOP.
The letter, which was the second one to be sent, states the FOP learned that last month, the Police Department "unilaterally issued new minimum staffing guidelines changing the previous standards" and that the "changes violate the established past practices and prevailing rights" set forth in their collective bargaining agreement.
The next day, Friday, OKC PD Chief Bill Citty wrote a letter reiterating his position that there has "never been a bargaining agreement" concerning specific staffing levels nor a "directive" in place to mandate them. However, FOP President John George says staffing has to be of top concern for both officers and public safety.
“You have to have a safe number out for the citizens, a safe number out there for the officers,” said George. “You have to have the right number of officers to handle the 911 calls and we barely do that.”
Citty is out of state this week, but he echoed his stance to his department, saying the FOP has no say on this matter.
On April 17, Citty addressed the original FOP grievance that claimed the department did not maintain their minimum staffing requirements more than 30 times within a recent one month period.
“You can't always meet minimum staffing,” Citty said.
Citty said when he looked at the numbers in April, he discovered many times the shortages would only be by one officer on any given shift, and that was only 8% of the time.
“Right now we're trying to contain costs,” said Citty during a news conference. “We have been trying to contain costs for a while.”
Citty said the department does try to fill the gaps when staffing falls short or when things get busy, George said he sees problems with that system.
“The problem is once its busy, it’s too late,” said George.
Both the OKC FOP and the Oklahoma City Police Department agree on one thing, the need for at least 200 more officers. That could become something voters will have to decide on a future sales tax referendum.
A grievance hearing has been scheduled for next week.