Public safety funds drastically cut, says DA

Wednesday, February 27th 2008, 10:44 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

District Attorneys across Oklahoma say your family's safety is being placed on the line and the U.S. Congress is to blame.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said money that was being used to protect the public is no longer available thanks to federal funds that have been cut.

"We used that money to put the most violent criminals in prison and get them off the street," Prater said.

The money came in the form of grants.

Prater said very important federal grants were used to fund some of the most critical programs in David Prater's office. Now, a good chunk of it is gone.

"These were all federal moneys that, unfortunately in an omnibus spending bill that Congress passed at the end of last year, drastically cut the funds going to those grant sources," Prater said

So, how much is gone?

According to figures given to Prater, Congress has voted to okay the slashing of over 63 percent of funding for programs that involved crime victims, witnesses and gangs.

Crime fighters across the state will lose $3.5 million.

Prater's office is losing close to $400,000; some of that money funded four of his anti-gang prosecutors.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said his office doesn't use the federal funds for manpower, but those grants are used to fund the ambassador program in downtown.

Right now we have enough in our grand budget to fund ambassadors for at least the next year or year and a half," Citty said. "After that, we'll just have to wait and see."

Prater said his gang prosecutors are too important to eliminate, so he'll have to make cuts elsewhere and do some reshuffling to ensure prosecutors continue putting gang members behind bars.

Prater said he'll look to the state for some financial assistance.

He's also planning to meet with Rep. Mary Fallin soon to find out what other solutions are available.