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“It’s a huge concern,” Nearly 70 police officer, firefighter positions frozen due to budget problems

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City Firefighters spring into action at the sound of a house fire, car accident or a medical emergency.

However, one battle these crews are trying to put out is at City Hall.

“We gotta find ways to better fund public safety," said Scott VanHorn, President of Oklahoma City Firefighters Association.

City officials introduced a proposed budget for next year, requesting to eliminate 16 positions citywide. That`s not all - nearly 70 public safety positions including 48 in police and 21 in fire, are frozen.

VanHorn says this could be happening for the second consecutive year.

“It definitely spreads the fire department a little bit more thin,” said VanHorn.

While crews face the fight of being understaff there`s also the possibility of losing Engine 51.

“That engine is going to be out of service,” VanHorn said.

This would force Fire Station 1 to operate with only one engine truck. Unfortunately, police are in the same boat, if not a bigger one.

“I hear stuff all the time that public safety takes up 60 something percent of the budget, I don't care if it takes up 90 percent, you gotta do whatever is enough," said John George, President of Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police.

Besides the nearly 50 frozen staff reductions, police also could lose an additional six vacant patrol positions for the 2018 budget alone.

“It's a huge concern when you don't have the proper amount of police officers to police the city,” said George

The Council votes to adopt the final 2017-2018 budget on June 13.

Public hearings on the proposed budget are planned for May 9 and May 23, then again on June 6.