Finding a million-dollar clerical error created a win-win for both Norman city councilmembers wanting to fund a mobile crisis response unit and the Norman Police Department budget.
“This evening we found out some additional information about money that we had in the budget that we were not originally anticipating,” Councilwoman Brandi Studley said. Last week, she had proposed cutting $500,000 from the proposed police department budget.
After finding the error and extra cash in the fire department budget, the council set aside more than $1.1 million for a program to create alternate responses to mental health emergencies without cutting the police budget.
“We are really pleased,” Sarah Jensen with the Norman Police Department said.
Aside from receiving their full budget request, Jensen said the department is also looking forward to collaborating on the new crisis care unit.
“Our officers have been working towards that. They bought into that model and understand that it really only works with everyone at the table; with law-enforcement, fire, medical personnel and those behavioral health service providers,” she said.
If the budget had been cut, the department said it was facing the possibility of cutting five additional officer positions, adding to the nine cut last year.
“Hopefully with that show of support from the public (officers) know that they are appreciated, that the public supports them and wants to give them the necessary tools to do their job and to keep them safe,” Norman FOP President Robert Wasoski said.
There are still a lot of questions about just what the mobile crisis response unit will look like and how much it will all cost, but councilmembers said at least the ball is rolling.