HARRAH, Okla. - The Oklahoma County Sheriff's department has seen a reduction in patrol deputies over the years and it is causing concern among some rural communities.
“Over the years we’ve seen our revenues dwindle for law enforcement maybe 8 years ago we had close to 50 patrol deputies out in the county able to protect citizens,” said Mark Myers, Public Information Director, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The number of patrol deputies has been reduced to less than half that number in recent years.
“20 patrol deputies and the biggest issue has been just over the years we have seen our revenue dwindle,” said Myers.
Ward 2 County Commissioner Brian Maughn says for the first time the budgets of law enforcement and jail operations were separated.
“They have all the amount of money that they asked for, for law enforcement. So any scaled reduction in force as far as money shouldn’t be an issue,” said Maughn.
Harrah City Councilman, Duane Patterson is voicing his concerns after recent crime in the city lead him to do research about how his area is patrolled.
“We learned that our officers, 2 officers per shift were running on approximately 180 9-1-1 calls for the county on an inter-local agreement over the last 90 days- that was concerning,” said Patterson.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department says the number of calls Patterson says Harrah officers are responding to is not accurate.
Patterson says Harrah has two officers on patrol at any given time, but because of that inter-local agreement, sometimes those officers are taking calls out in other parts of the county.
“What that does is, it leaves our town vulnerable and exposed while they`re running on those calls and why are we running that many calls? The question was proposed and the answer was there`s considerably less patrol officers in the county,” said Patterson.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department says patrol deputies are now primarily patrolling unincorporated areas.
“Like Deer Creek, Smith Village, areas that do not have municipalities that do not have their law enforcement agencies, so that`s the reason why some of our agencies that we normally partner with aren`t seeing us as much,” said Myers.
Patterson says he hopes for open communication among the different agencies in an effort to help keep all of the citizens of the county safe.
“If we`re going to be expected to run on those calls then we need to come to some sort of agreement on who gets part of that money to make these calls,” said Patterson.