Sunday, November 29, 2009
Radical public safety idea: consolidate city/county
Here's a radical idea that would do wonders for expanding the numbers of police officers and firefighters in OKC:
Consolidate the city and county.
It's that easy. Instead of trying to decimate a vital MAPS 3 initiative, why don't we separate the issues of MAPS and public safety personnel and find solutions for both? Yes to MAPS, and yes to county consolidation. County consolidation would get rid of the duplication of services that exists between city and county.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's office routinely patrols the exact same areas that OKC and Edmond police patrol. Their biweekly late night traffic checkpoints are always in OKC city limits. Their patrol cars are always hiding from view watching traffic on highways in OKC city limits.
By consolidating the two, it would be like doubling the budget for the OKC police department. The OKC police department claims that their numbers are too low for a city of 560,000 and claim that they're "at 1993 levels" whatever that means, despite that they have never produced numbers that prove their numbers are so low.
OKC police department has 1,057 commissioned officers and over 300 civilian workers. Oklahoma County has..well it doesn't really say how many police officers they have, but on their website you CAN "meet Sheriff John Whetsel." Thank goodness for that bit of info. Just assume 1,057 or more, because if their numbers were ever lower than OKC PD you have to assume Whetsel would strong arm the county commissioners into doubling or tripling his budget and building a jail the size of the Empire State Building.
Let's go ahead and pretend that the police union isn't lying to us (stop laughing) about personnel numbers. Let's assume that they're right, that their numbers are way too low and that they're below 1993 levels, whatever that means. What they have not factored in is the utter duplication of services between OKC city police and Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office. There are actually two police forces patrolling OKC.
Let's just eliminate the duplication of services and the inefficiencies between two separate police forces, multiple police unions, several police chiefs, and disunity in mission. Give the OKC police department the numbers they want. Consolidate the county and city and increase public safety efficiency AND save money at the same time.