Oklahoma City’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123, is pushing the city’s police department to put more officers on the streets.
The union filed a grievance against the department April 12 that argued the department is understaffed by at least 200 officers, and is not meeting guidelines that require a certain number of officers per shift.
“[It’s] an officer safety issue,” said John George, FOP president.
“We’re not really doing the citizens justice because we aren’t having enough people out there to answer the calls in a timely manner.”
The number of officers per shift is below the minimum requirement on a “fairly regular basis,” according to George.
At a press conference Monday, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said he agrees the department needs more police, but officer safety has not been compromised.
Citty said during the time period cited in the FOP grievance--March 2 to April 2--the department was only below minimum staffing requirements about eight percent of the time.
Citty also said the minimum staffing guidelines are not strict rules.
“It’s not a contractual agreement. It has to be flexible. People get sick, people need time off, we have disasters. You can’t always meet minimum staffing,” Citty said.
The grievance asked the Oklahoma City Police Department to push harder to make sure staffing requirements are met, whether through allowing officers to work overtime to fill out understaffed shifts, or finding money to hire more new police officers.
Citty said budget and funding problems have made it difficult to balance cutting costs and fully staffing shifts. He said the department has been trying to reduce the amount of officers working overtime hours as a way to reduce spending.
“The grievance is really just a small piece of the overall issue,” George said. “What we’re really trying to fix here is the big problem.”
If the police department denies the grievance, George said he plans to file a grievance with the city manager.