The Norman Transcript

Government

January 14, 2014

Norman PSST ballot date under question

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The PSST currently supports 71 police and fire positions with the city. Those positions are in addition to the positions already paid by the city through the general budget. The city also used PSST funds to build fire stations No. 8 and No. 9 and to purchase badly needed equipment.

The city council asked for more details Monday on two items to be included as part of the PSST renewal package.

Some Norman residents were concerned about the proposed $15 million radio system package included as a proposed capital expenditure to be covered by the PSST renewal.

Maj. J.D. Younger told council members the radio system is a complex system that would serve Norman police, fire EMSStat and all city services. The system needs to provide coverage for 196 square miles. Part of the expense would be five to six towers to relay the signals. Worst-case scenario, that could include purchasing some land, Younger said.

Currently, Norman only has two towers and there are dead zones.

Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey and Fire Chief James Fullingim said the system fails when it is needed most during crisis events, such as the wildfires of August 2012 and May’s tornado.

Council members also asked additional questions about including school resource officers in the PSST package. The proposal is for 13 officers. That cost would be shared with Norman Public Schools, which has a dedicated funding source in place to pay for those salaries.

The officers would provide a safer environment for students and faculty and would build relationships with teens.

“Kids want to know answers, and there’s no one they can ask. This provides a resource,” Humphrey said.

Recent incidents with an active shooter in schools across the U.S. indicated that tragedy was reduced due to officers in schools, he said.

“They are problem solvers,” Humphrey said.

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