OKLAHOMA CITY – The head of Oklahoma City’s police union is speaking out about the need to hire more police officers.
The issue has gotten the spotlight following a near record outbreak in murders last year.
Right now the city has nearly the same number of police officers as they did 20 years ago.
Some city leaders are already drawing up plans fix the shortage and hire hundreds of new cops.
“Public safety is a concern for all citizens,” Oklahoma City councilman David Greenwell said.
Councilman Greenwell said he believes the city should hire 40 police officers a year for five years.
His plan has support from several others on city council.
“We will make adding additional police officers a priority,” Greenwell said.
“We can’t do things the citizens should demand of us,” FOP President John George said. “Our response times are high and we can’t do proactive work to keep the crime rate down.”
George said the number of police officers working the streets in the city is nearly the same now as it was in the early 90s.
That, coupled with a sizable increase in the city’s population, has led to an increase in crime.
“Violent crime is on the rise,” he said. “It’s been rising for several years. We have to have more officers to do proactive police work.”
“We haven’t added people to narcotics in 20 years and narcotics drives most of the crime,” Oklahoma City police chief Bill Citty said.
Citty agrees his department needs more officers but adding 200 positions will cost the city nearly $15 to $20 million.
“Everybody is discussing the needs for more officers,” Citty said. “The discussion is, how do you pay for that because there are needs in other areas of the city.”