Norman Police Department announced its plan to eliminate nine department positions July 1 after a budget reduction of $865,000.
Following the finalization of Norman’s city budget at the June 16 Norman City Council meeting, councilmembers called for Norman Police Department staff to seek cutbacks in the salary and benefits line items, according to a press release.
To fulfill this request, NPD will eliminate one master police officer from Staff Services, one master police officer and one sergeant from Criminal Investigations, two police officers and two master police officers from Patrol, and one master police officer and one sergeant from Special Investigations, according to the release.
Staff eliminations resulted in a budgetary reduction of $865,321 and cut the department’s staff from 180 to 171 members.
The Council will appropriate gathered funds to the General Fund Reserve for Community Outreach. It will appropriate $235,000 for an internal audit function and will allocate the remaining $630,321 at a future date, according to the release.
Seven of the affected officer positions are vacant. The department’s public information officer Sarah Jensen said in an email these vacancies occurred because the department is not holding a police academy this year — which is where it typically begins hiring.
“From recruiting to solo assignment on patrol, it takes about 15 months to select, onboard and train a new police officer,” Jensen said. “(Because we) will not be holding an academy, (we) believe that these budget reductions will further inhibit our ability to recruit moving forward.”
The Norman Chief of Police Kevin Foster plans to request the ability to over-hire so it can avoid the layoff of its cold case investigator and video redaction clerk, Jensen said. Even if this is successful, Jensen said budgetary reductions will have significant impacts in the Norman community.
“We do not see a positive in regard to the reductions,” Jensen said. “Significant reductions in staffing … will ultimately impact our response abilities, our ability to proactively police in high crime and collision areas and could possibly reduce various community outreach efforts and programs due to staffing.”
Because the city has not yet determined how funds will be allocated to community outreach and social programs, Jensen said it cannot yet comment on how its relationship with these programs will look moving forward. She said serving the community will, however, remain one of the department’s top priorities.
“We have and will continue to work with our community partners and various social programs to provide the best possible … resources to the Norman community,” Jensen said. “We will continue working with partners on issues of homelessness and mental health on a daily basis.”
Although the authorized strength of the NPD has decreased, Jensen said that the department will continue to respond and provide the highest possible level of service.
“(Despite the cuts),” Jensen said, “we will continue to work to provide the level of service the Norman community has become accustomed to over the years.”