City Of Norman Approves 2022 Budget With No Police Department Cuts

Wednesday, June 9th 2021, 4:01 am
By: News 9, Barry Mangold

NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Breaking News Update 3:30 a.m.:

The City of Norman has voted to approve the 2022 budget with no police department cuts after a session that trailed into the early morning hours on Wednesday.

The city council voted to not cut the police budget and instead take the money out of the general fund.

The budget includes money that will be directed toward a mobile crisis response unit pilot program.

This is a Breaking News Update, the original story is below.

Hundreds of law enforcement advocates filled Norman city hall Tuesday night to oppose a proposed budget cut to the city police department.

The council chamber was at capacity, 253 people, before 5 p.m. with almost entirely law enforcement advocates, and was still full at 10 p.m., according to police and fire officials working during the meeting.

The budget amendment by Ward 1 council member Brandi Studley proposes the city cut $500,000 from the police budget and use those funds for a mental health crisis response team.

"For five solid years we’ve talked about more training, but that just isn’t the solution anymore," Studley said at the start of Tuesday's meeting. "Let mental health professionals handle mental health-related calls."

The Norman Police Department said the proposal would result in five officer positions being removed from the payroll.

Hundreds who oppose the cut showed up to the meeting early in matching shirts showing their support for the Norman Police Department.

"I mean you’re talking slower response times, (and) fewer officers," said Steve Guerrero, a Norman resident. "They may not have the equipment to deal with things that they need."

"They need the money more," said Christina Buchanan. "We can find other sources to support a mental health crisis besides taking it away from our officers."

A smaller group showed support for moving the funds to an alternative to armed officers responding to mental health calls.

"It’s something that will help Norman. It will help crime prevention instead of crime control," said Normanite Jackson Foote.

Cynthia Rogers, a Norman resident and University of Oklahoma Professor, said the issue of police funding has become overly divisive.

"I think we could be having a completely different conversation if it was just, ‘we’re going to find the money for this,” she said referring to Studley's proposed mental health response team.