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Piedmont City Council decides to keep police department

A plan to turn police services over to the Canadian County Sheriff's Department was widely opposed by Piedmont residents.
by Matt Patterson Published: September 18, 2013

— It turns out you can fight city hall.

Members of the Piedmont City Council announced during a Monday workshop they are dropping the idea of contracting with the Canadian County Sheriff's Department to provide police services for the city.

City officials called a news conference Sept. 6 to announce the city was in discussions with the sheriff, but quickly dropped that idea after a backlash from residents.

“It is a dead issue,” Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson said, addressing residents at Monday night's meeting. “We heard the public. You all said you didn't want it. You did not want us to pursue it, and we heard you loud and clear.”

Thomerson's comments drew applause from the crowd of about 20 spectators.

The Piedmont Police Department has nine full-time officers, including the police chief, and one reserve officer. The city budgets $915,000 annually for police services. The sheriff's department would have provided services for $607,252, officials said.

But residents who contacted the mayor and city council members wanted to keep their department local.

“We need a local police department,” Piedmont resident Glen Bray said. “I was mad when they brought it up. We need security out here. My neighbors are all for keeping it too. We need them here to cut down on vandalism and whatever else.”

Christina Vierus has lived in Piedmont since 2002 and said she supports the police department and its recent decision to unionize, joining the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 173.

“I like our police department just fine,” she said. “I think what we have is good. They have a right to have an FOP and I support that as well. They know what they're doing. All my friends are for it and I have quite a few of them.”

Police Chief Alex Oblein said he was pleased with the council's decision.

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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