The Norman Transcript


January 22, 2014

Support continues for making city Public Safety Sales Tax permanent



In addition to continuing to support 71 police and fire positions, one of the proposals in the PSST renewal is for an additional13 police offices to serve as school resource officers. Norman Public Schools would share the cost of those officers.

The tax renewal would fund four additional communications officers (dispatchers) and two mechanics to service emergency vehicles and would help pay for critical public safety capital needs.

Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey said increases in school shootings over recent years has led to a dialogue with public schools over the need to add school resource officers.

Humphrey said schools with officers have lower rates of fatalities during school shooting incidents.

“We truly believe that this is a program that can help our schools and our community to remain safe,” Humphrey said.

The school resource officers would phase in over a two-year period and would include one supervisor, two officers at each of the two public high schools, one officer at Dimensions Academy and one officer each at the four middle schools. Three additional officers would rotate between the 15 elementary schools.

Critical capital needs identified by the city and included in the PSST renewal proposal include a $15 million emergency communication system.

Maj. J.D. Younger reported that the city’s radio and communication system is out of date, has consistent failures and is comprised of equipment that will not be available for replacement because it is being phased out. The new system will include additional radio towers, a core, consoles and moble handheld radios.

The PSST renewal also would pay for a $6.5 million Emergency Operations Dispatch Center.

On the most-needed list from the Norman Fire Department is $6.8 million to replace fire apparatus, including five fire engines, a heavy rescue truck, a ladder truck and an air supply truck. Another $3.5 million would allow the fire department to relocate Fire Station No. 5 to an area that would better serve Norman. The old station is in the Little Axe area.

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