Norman City Council reduces police budget by 2.79%

With the new movement to “Defund The Police” gaining steam across the country – and causing controversy amongst right-wing authoritarians who lack insight or critical thinking skills – the Norman City Council voted last night to reallocate about 2.79% of the Norman Police Department budget to community outreach programs.

Here are the details via a Storme “Lighting” Jones report with News 9:

The Norman city council wrapped up an 11-hour meeting just before 4 a.m. Wednesday with a vote to cut some of the police department’s budget.

Hundreds of people showed up to express their concern, and some support for the Norman Police Department. However, the meeting ended with $865,000 being taken out of the Norman Police Department’s $31 million budget.

The money taken out of the budget will be coming from police salaries and benefits and going toward community outreach programs.

In general, I support the “Defund the Police” movement. Just like any civilized society that’s built on laws, you need to have police around to enforce them, but you don’t have to be Detective Freamon from The Wire to realize that law enforcement in America is built on racist and classist foundations, and that the police spend way too much time dealing with stuff that falls outside the scope of traditional policing. At this point, it seems like the whole concept of the police in the country needs to be rebuilt from scratch, and turned into a better institution.

That being said, the first thing the Norman PD cuts are salaries and benefits?!! That seems counter-intuitive. Couldn’t they sell a tank or hummer or two, or maybe pawn off some of the department’s small arms arsenal?

Councilwoman Katie Bierman said they wanted the budget cuts to come from salaries and benefits to avoid cuts to equipment, which could have created safety concerns for officers. She also recognizes that these cuts mean jobs will be lost.

“While I recognize that jobs are lost, there are opportunities there. If we lose one patrol officer, we might be able to hire two drug councilors, and are able to provide twice as good of service to the community in that particular area,” said councilwoman Katie Bierman.

Hey, if they’re looking to replace one patrol officer with two drug counselors, I know a good place to start.

While Norman was showing some guts by taking small and important steps towards changing how the police work in this country, the Oklahoma City Council, under the leadership of conservative Republican social media addict David Holt, voted 6 – 3 to keep the police budget the same. In all fairness, the department has had to spend more money than usual on tear gas and fuel for the police helicopter, so I guess you can’t blame them. Plus, some councilmembers had some antiquated tropes to reinforce:

Councilman Larry McAtee defended the police budget.

“Each of us, before we go to sleep tonight, should thank God that we live in a town like Oklahoma City with the law enforcement people that we have guarding us, watching over us, making our lives better,” McAtee said.

When he said “each of us,” I think Larry was referring to old white people who have never been targetted or harassed by police simply due to their skin color.