NORMAN — Norman police and fire departments updated the Norman Citizen’s Public Safety Oversight Committee about training, upcoming events and other items during their meeting Thursday.
Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey told the committee fire recruits graduation will be at 3:30 p.m. March 13 at the armory. On Thursday the 19 recruits were able to participate in wildland fire training on land owned by a captain out east, he said.
“Not all classes have the opportunity to do that,” Bailey said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for these guys to train.”
Before graduation approaches though, the recruits and other volunteers will be going into the community March 9 to install smoke detectors for people for free. Bailey said he did not yet know which neighborhood they will be visiting.
The fire department offers free installation of fire detectors all year round.
Bailey also updated the committee on the construction of Station No. 9. He said they have had some setbacks due to bad weather, but they are still looking to have the project completed in the spring, most likely in May.
“They were out there working on trusses today,” Bailey said Thursday.
Norman Police Captain Tom Easley said the Norman Police Department’s 50th Training Academy began earlier this month.
The academy includes 10 members for now but “it’s still early,” Easley said. The academy began Feb. 8 and will conclude on July 25, at which point the new officers will continue their education under field conditions with a police trainer for an additional 15 weeks.
The fourth Citizen’s Police Academy will also be approaching soon with a full class of 20, he said. The citizen’s academy begins Feb. 26 and will conclude in May.
The police department is currently understaffed by 17 officers and it is about to be 18, Easley said. That number does not include police academy recruits.
The police department is currently suffering losses in staff due to retirement and officers who turn in their resignation to move to other county, federal or state agencies, Easley said.
Chief of Police Keith Humphrey said they are looking at modifying the hiring process and cut four to six weeks out of that. Humphrey said modifying the process will not affect the quality of candidates.
Because the hiring process takes so long right now, he said they have lost two candidates because other agencies were able to offer them jobs before NPD could. He also said they are going to be recruiting year-round now at job fairs so that will help as well. The committee’s next meeting will address their annual report. The meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at City Hall.