Oklahoma City would slow the pace at which it has been adding police positions under the proposed $1.1 billion, 2014-15 budget presented to the city council on Tuesday.
The budget proposes adding 28 positions to the Police Department in the fiscal year beginning July 1, down from 40 in the current year. It includes positions for seven new firefighters.
While the money is in the budget, the Police Department cannot fill all of its currently authorized positions because of the time it takes to train recruits.
The 42 recruits who graduated from the police academy last week will enter a four- to six-month-long field training program. Following that, they must complete a probationary period and a final evaluation before they can become an Oklahoma City police officer.
The city has been running roughly two academies per year since 2012; before that there was a two-year gap when no academies were opened.
Police officials say one academy per year is necessary just to replace officers who retire or leave the department for other reasons. A second academy is needed to boost the number of officers on the street.
Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee has said he would like to see 40 more positions added in 2014-15. McAtee asked Doug Dowler, the budget director, how much it would cost to add 12 more spots.
Dowler said the figure would be $1.3 million — $800,000 for salaries, benefits and other personnel expenses, and $500,000 to add squad cars to the police fleet.
Public safety is the city council’s top priority and consumes the biggest slice of general fund.
Overall, the city proposes adding 80 positions in the 2014-15 budget. As the city has grown, city government has added 334 positions since reaching a recession-related low point in 2011.