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In another marathon meeting of the City Council of Oklahoma City Tuesday, more commenters weighed in on the police budget and funding. The Council also heard budget presentations from the Municipal Courts Department and the Utilities Department. In all, the meeting lasted six hours.

Police

The Council entertained public hearing on a resolution to introduce the proposed Police Department (OCPD) budget for final hearing, 13 residents offered comment.

All but one encouraged the use of OCPD budget dollars for other purposes.

One specific request that came up repeatedly was for a city Department of Human Rights and Economic Opportunity. These calls each came from members of a group called Communities For Human Rights.

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During items from Council, Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper returned to the Police budget, making suggestions for six amendments.

His first item was to require all officers, or at least all new officers, to receive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). Currently CIT is only provided to officers who want to have the training.

Cooper’s second item was to provide discreet mental health care to all officers, or all new officers. His third item was to create a facility for acute mental health care for officers and residents. The fourth recommendation was to increase youth outreach programs at Douglass Community Center.

The fifth item Cooper suggested was to expand the OCPD Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). He asked for HOT officers to be on duty around the clock available to help direct residents into Housing First case management.

To learn more: Police duties, social work mix with Homeless Outreach Team

Cooper’s sixth and final recommendation was to form violence interruption programs in neighborhoods that could provide mediators between people involved in disputes such as gang strife.

Some of these amendments may be heard at the next Council meeting.

Municipal Courts

LaShawn Thompson of the Municipal Court Department gave an overview of their proposed budget for FY21 which comes in at a little over $8 million.

Cuts largely come in the form of limiting hours of operation. By enhancing options for fine payment online, the court will be able to open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5:30pm, and will be closed on Saturday. Cash or surety bonds will be able to be issued at the Information Desk at the Police Station overnight.

The court will also freeze some vacant positions, as well as eliminate some custodial positions.

Thompson said that the amnesty program has helped close over 1600 cases with over 500 being dismissed.

Utilities Budget

Chris Browning of the Utilities Department shared the proposed budget for FY21 for that department. The proposed budget is $619 million, over half of which is expected to go to capital improvements.

Capital expenditures will include a second Atoka Pipeline for $88 million, South Canadian Wastewater Treatment Plant for $110 million, neighborhood pipeline replacements for $15 million, Hefner-Draper Interconnect for $17 million, and treatment improvements at Hefner and Draper for $36 million.

Browning said that the treatment plant at Overholser has been decommissioned at no effect to the lake.

To save money in the budget, the Department will defer capital expenditures of $21.6 million, defer vehicle and equipment purchases of $2.3 million, and eliminate 20 full time positions.

Browning reported that about 11,000 customers are currently in arrears on their utility payments, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount in arrears is approximately $4 million. Browning expects customers to begin getting out of arrears soon and assured the Council that the Department will work with customers to set up payment plans.

The Council meets again on Tuesday, June 16, at 8:30am.


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