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January 25, 2013

AG says Norman does it right for public safety

NORMAN — Oklahoma cities and towns should copy the example set by Norman and increase budgets for public safety, the state’s attorney general said Thursday.

Scott Pruitt told Norman Rotarians that the city has increased its public safety expenditures by 18 percent from 2000 to 2010. The rate of violent crime during that period has fallen 43 percent, he said.

“I pray that other communities across the state learn from your example,” Pruitt said.

The seven-year public safety sales tax, approved by voters, adds police and firefighters as well as two new fire stations. Collections began Oct. 1, 2008, and will terminate Sept. 30, 2015.

Pruitt said he is concerned about the state’s homicide rate, with near-record killings in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton. He routinely meets with law enforcement along the Interstate 44 corridor.

“It’s a very important role that we play in public safety,” he said, adding that the criminal element is alive and well in the state.

He was critical of the state’s Pardon and Parole Board’s attempt to release inmates who had not served full sentences.

“We need to look at better ways to ensure that recidivism is reduced. We don’t want violent people released to commit other crimes. We need to make sure public safety is a priority.”

Pruitt also discussed workers’ comp fraud, federalism, his joining the lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act and funding of district attorneys. He said the state’s DAs are underfunded to the tune of about $35 million.

Elected in 2010, Pruitt served eight years in the state Senate from the Tulsa area. He attended Georgetown College and the University of Tulsa College of Law. He played baseball in college and was co-owner and managing general partner of the Oklahoma City RedHawks from 2003 to 2010.

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