FOP

Norman Police officers wave at passing Jeeps during a Back the Blue drive-by rally, Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Norman Police Station as the Fraternal Order of Police fights a budget cut in court. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

While two city officials have been deposed in the lawsuit between the City of Norman and the Fraternal Order of Police, the city has filed a motion to protect the mayor and council from deposition, court records show.

City spokeswoman Annahlyse Meyer said City Clerk Brenda Hall and City Manager Darrel Pyle have given sworn statements as part of the ongoing litigation. The city filed a motion to prevent the FOP from deposing current and former mayors and councilors as requested by the FOP.

In addition to the current mayor and council, former mayors Lynne Miller and Cindy Rosenthall and former councilors whose terms date back to 2011 are listed for deposition. The city argued in its motion that elected officials may claim legislative privilege under state and federal law.

“The privilege protects against inquiry into acts that occur in the regular course of the legislative process and into the motivation for those acts,” the city's motion reads.

The city also argued that immunity extended to federal lawmakers “has been applied to local legislators” on behalf of other cities.

In July, the FOP filed a lawsuit in reaction to the City Council's decision to cut nearly $1 million from the Norman Police Department's proposed budget on June 16, as the council set aside $865,000 for other programs. While the cut left the department with a marginal increase to its budget, the NPD was forced to cut nine unfilled officer positions.

The FOP alleges the cut violated the provisions of the Public Safety Sales Tax Fund, a voter-approved half-cent sales tax made permanent in 2015. By ordinance and ballot, the tax was to increase public safety personnel including 13 school resource officers, 41 police officers and 30 firefighters. The city has hired nine SRO’s. By reducing the NPD's budget ask by nearly $1 million, the FOP has argued the loss of officers demonstrates the city violated the PSST.

The organization also accused the city of violating the Open Meetings Act with an agenda on the night of June 16 that was too vague.

The city has argued that the funds were not removed from the PSST fund and the agenda reflected the actions taken that night.

Both the city and the FOP filed motions for summary judgement on Nov. 2.

A hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Cleveland County Courthouse. Judge Thomas Baldwin has not ruled on any of the recent motions.

Meyer said Hall and Pyle cannot comment on ongoing litigation.

Mindy Ragan Wood

405-416-4420

mwood@normantranscript.com

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