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Norman candidates debate public safety issues

Candidates for Norman mayor and city council discussed public safety issues during a public forum, the first of two scheduled before an April 2 vote.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: March 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm •  Published: March 20, 2013

“We are going to have to arm ourselves and defend our families … One thing I see in the city of Norman is that people don't have much respect for individual freedom and liberty,” he said.

All candidates agreed the public safety sales tax money should be spent solely on public safety needs, separate from the city's general fund.

Matters of trust

Most of the candidates said city officials need to improve relations between management and the fire and police unions.

Kempf dissented, saying “distrust between citizens and their government is a good thing.” A level of distrust means “you'll take the bull by the horns and be responsible for yourself,” he said.

All the candidates favored community policing and making sure police officers and firefighters have adequate equipment to do their jobs.

“I don't think we realize how much we take for granted that our public safety officers are there 24/7, 365 days a year. We owe them a debt of gratitude,” Sherman said.

Spaulding said he gained a new respect for the challenges public safety officers face when he did a ride-along with police during a wildfire outbreak last summer. As a resident of east Norman where the wildfires erupted, he said, “that brought it close to home.”

Lockett said the community policing philosophy advocated by Police Chief Keith Humphrey has made officers “much more approachable and responsive.”

Holman said he has ridden with police officers several times, and the experience helped him appreciate the job they do and the challenges they face.

Gallagher said council members needed to “sit down with the chiefs” to establish priorities for each department.

“We can't do everything at once. Let's look at what is most important and start there,” he said.

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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