Like most other large metro areas in the country, Oklahoma City faced some tough budget numbers recently that forced cuts in most departments, including police.
City leaders spared police and fire the worst cuts, but Police Chief Bill Citty still had to find places to cut costs. His solution was to cut 22 jobs, including the city's participation in Oklahoma County's drug court and two officers in an undercover drug program.
Fortunately, Citty found a way to save seven of those 22 jobs using about $500,000 in federal stimulus money.
"There were several things that were strictly equipment amounting to about $500,000," Citty said. "Looking at that, those funds would also allow us to hire personnel or recover those personnel being cut."
If the city's sales tax revenue doesn't improve before next summer, the jobs would be back on the chopping block again next year. The positions that were to be cut were vacant, meaning no officers would have been laid off.
Among the positions being saved is a liaison with the Oklahoma County Drug Court, a decision which pleased Ward 4 Councilman Pete White.
"To me, that's the long-term solution to the drug problem," White said. "As much as it pains me to say this, it becomes obvious to me every day the war on drugs is not one we are going to win. The drug court has both assistance for the addict and a diversion program to help the Department of Corrections."
Other positions being saved include two officers in an undercover drug interdiction program, one officer to enforce the city's derelict vehicle ordinance and a sergeant tasked with managing the city's fleet of police vehicles.
Citty said another of the restored positions will allow the city to keep its accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
"We hope the economics get somewhat better so we can salvage those next year," Citty said.