Norman city leaders plan to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the Norman Police Department’s budget.
In a lawsuit, the Norman Fraternal Order of Police alleges city leaders violated the Open Meets Act when they cut $865,000 from the department’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year during a special meeting in June.
The city council voted to direct that money towards an auditor and community programs such as mental health services.
The Norman FOP said the council didn’t give proper notice. City councilors said they disagree.
“The agenda wasn’t specific and direct to what was going to be discussed or changed. We believe that was a violation,” Norman FOP President Robert Wasoski said.
The budget cuts came after demonstrators in Oklahoma City and across the country protested George Floyd’s death and called for defunding of police departments. Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody.
“Removing money from our budget is not going to fix those problems,” Wasoski said. “We’re still going to have problems of crime and the need for public safety and police officers in Norman.”
The cuts are one reason a group called Unite Norman is gathering signatures to recall Mayor Breea Clark and three city councilors. They said they already have enough signatures to put one city council member on the recall ballot.
“This is the sort of leadership we have in the city that they come up with these concepts, like defunding the police, sanctuary cities and letting 16-year-olds vote,” Unite Norman member Russell Smith said. “We think that is radical and dangerous and does not represent our values.”
No hearings have been scheduled for the lawsuit so far.