Debunking Norman Police funding myths

Editor, The Transcript:

We can all agree that public safety is vital for a flourishing community. Everyone wants to feel safe and valued.

Throughout last spring and summer, we saw calls for changes in policing in Norman. We also saw historic participation in city budget hearings with heated arguments about whether the police department budget should be increased or decreased.

Unfortunately, there continues to be a lot of confusion about the budget process and the police department budget that was actually passed.

Part of the confusion centers around the important difference between a proposed budget (a work in progress) and the approved budget. Funds are not allocated UNTIL city council approves the budget.

What did happen? The proposed increase in the police department budget was not included in the approved budget. Thus, the police department did not get the increase it sought (and expected).

Myths about the Norman Police Department budget continue to circulate around the community. It is easy to dispel these myths. The approved city budgets are readily available on the city webpage. Fiscal year ending (FYE) 2021 runs from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

MYTH 1: The Norman Police Department budget was slashed.

REALITY: The approved FYE 2021 budget gave the police department a small ($251,176) increase. The adopted FYE 2021 budget allocated $22,601,745 from the general fund to the Police Department, compared with $22,350,569 in FYE 2020 budget.

MYTH 2: The Norman Police Department budget was significantly changed in the FYE 2021 budget.

REALITY: The Norman Police Department received the SAME SHARE (26.5%) of the general fund expenditures in the FYE 2021 budget as it did in the FYE 2020 budget.

As we continue to see misinformation being spread throughout our community, I encourage everyone to share the facts.

Is your neighbor, friend or associate angry about a police department budget cut that did not happen? Can you help them to understand the situation better?

As always, I advocate for data-informed policy making. What equipment, training and programs are proven to be cost effective in improving public safety for all of our neighbors?

CYNTHIA ROGERS

Ward 4 neighbor, economist

 

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