Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office responds after extra funding for jail operations is denied

P.D. Taylor

OKLAHOMA CITY – As state lawmakers are scrambling to agree on a budget to close a nearly $900 million shortfall, it seems that city and county leaders across the state are also taking action.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma City Fire Department learned that they will be affected by budget cuts.

The police department’s budget was cut by $1.7 million, which will mainly affect personnel.

Right now, budget restrictions have already caused 48 positions at the department to be frozen.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty says the department will eliminate eight positions that are currently vacant to deal with the budget cut.

The fire department plans to take Engine 51 at Fire Station 1 out of service.

“We will feel an impact but again, we feel it’s the most least impact to our citizens that we can do at this time,” said Assistant Fire Chief Richard Kelley.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office announced that its budget had also been affected.

Interim Sheriff P.D. Taylor says despite the budget evaluation team’s recommendation, county officials voted against giving the office over $800,000 next fiscal year to help operate the Oklahoma County Jail.

“This action has potentially put judges and the public at risk in forcing our office to cut back on courthouse security. This action also endangers everyone in the unincorporated areas as our ability to maintain any law enforcement presence in those areas will be greatly diminished, if not eliminated altogether,” a statement from the agency read.

In a news release, Taylor blasted the four members of the Oklahoma County Budget Board for voting against fully funding the office.

“To be clear, the Sheriff’s Office was the only budget not funded at the level recommended by the budget evaluation team,” the release said.

The four people who voted against the funding include Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, Court Clerk Rick Warren, County Clerk David Hooten and Chief Deputy Larry Stein from the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office.

Taylor says as a result, the action ‘fails to fund the annual increases in the medical and food contracts’ for the Oklahoma County Jail.

NewsChannel 4 is working to obtain responses from those officials.

Click here to read the full response from Oklahoma County Interim Sheriff PD Taylor.