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On public safety funding, pragmatism should guide Oklahoma lawmakers

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: January 28, 2013

Like Jones, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson wants raises for his men and women. Thompson said 14 other law enforcement agencies in the state offer better pay than what troopers get. Meanwhile OHP staffing is at a 22-year low, leaving troopers “to do more and more every day.” Turnover is a growing concern.

Last year the Legislature funded an academy for cadets for the first time in three years. This needs to continue. Thompson's request for an additional $7 million next year merits serious consideration.

So too does Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Eric Pfeifer's warning that without a new building in Oklahoma City, the medical examiner's office won't regain its national accreditation. Additional pathologists are also needed, but the biggest issue is the cramped and outdated building, where last year a cooler broke down and cadavers had to be stored temporarily in refrigeration trucks.

A bond issue is the perfect vehicle to pay for construction of a new building, but conservative lawmakers have rejected that idea over misguided concerns about adding to the state's debt. Many fail to grasp, or simply refuse to acknowledge, the difference between responsible investment in infrastructure, which a bond issue would be, and irresponsible deficit spending such as that seen in Washington.

All three of these agency requests deserve serious deliberation driven by pragmatism, not ideology.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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