Norman police have decided how they’ll save money after the city council voted earlier this month to take over $800,000 out of the departments $31 million budget.
The goal was that nobody was to be laid off and the department has achieved that goal.
The following vacant positions will not be filled in the department.
· 1 Master Police Officer position (currently vacant) from the Staff Services Division.
· 1 Master Police Officer position (currently vacant) from Criminal Investigations Division.
· 1 Sergeant position (currently vacant) from the Criminal Investigations Division.
· 2 Master Police Officer positions (currently vacant) from the Patrol Division.
· 2 Police Officer positions (currently vacant) from the Patrol Division.
· 1 Master Police Officer position (currently vacant) from the Special Investigations Division.
· 1 Sergeant position (currently vacant) from the Special Investigations Division.
Employee salaries and benefits will also be affected.
“When you get into cuts of that magnitude, you’re just going to have to cut from salaries and benefits because that is about 80 percent of our budget,” said Chief Kevin Foster.
Foster said police in Moore, Oklahoma City and Edmond all pay much better, which will make recruitment that much more difficult.
“We know that officers are talking about other places,” said Foster. “We hope that we are able to hold on to them here and keep our employees that we currently have. Then we will have a tough time recruiting, not only because of these types of cuts but people worry about coming here and getting cut.”
Norman City Manager Darrel Pyle is staying positive.
“We are optimistic because we do have some guidance and control over how the organization progresses,” said Pyle.
Right now, Norman Mayor Breea Clark is establishing a task force to decide how to spend a remaining $630,000 after $235,000 has already been set aside for an Internal Audit function.
“The mayor sent out invitations to dozens of community members and stakeholders with a variety of backgrounds,” said Pyle. “She’s receiving confirmations as we speak of those able to participate. So far, everything I’ve seen is people were grateful for the opportunity.”
Now with fewer resources, Norman’s chief of police hopes the public doesn’t see a decline in response times.
“Things can always be changed,” said Foster. “We can make mid-year adjustments or anytime we can make adjustments to the budget.”
Mayor Clark is wasting no time with the newly established task force. They’re set to meet on the first day of the new fiscal year, July 1.
Norman city council members will meet again on July 9 to make a final decision.