By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
According to FBI statistics for 2013, Oklahoma City was listed as one of the top 10 cities nationally for violent and property crime. This outcome was predicted by a 2009 study that found Oklahoma City had dangerously low levels of police staffing and recommended adding officers to face rising crime.
Dr. Ed Shadid, Oklahoma City, Ward 2 City Councilman and candidate for Oklahoma City mayor has called a town hall meeting to discuss public safety on Thursday, February 13.
The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Francis Tuttle Campus at Reno and Rockwell (parking and entrance on the east side). The meeting is scheduled at a safe place, but near the four square mile Oklahoma City area with the highest crime rate: NW 10th to NW 27th and Council to Meridian.
Statistics showed that Oklahoma City is the Ninth most dangerous city of those with populations over 500,000. The rankings are according to population and are based on a city’s rate for six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
“The challenges facing our city need a leader who is willing to acknowledge them and work towards solutions,” Shadid said. “I have attended more than 100 neighborhood association meetings and community gatherings and the issues are clear. We need transparency in how we do business at city hall.”
The study listed the top 10 most dangerous cities as: #1 ranked Detroit, MI; Baltimore, MD; Memphis, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Indianapolis, IN; Milwaukee, WI; Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK; followed by Houston, TX.
“In 2009, experts recommended to the Mayor of Oklahoma City that the city hire an additional 250-300 police officers,” Shadid said.
“At a December 2013 city council meeting, the chief of police indicated that we were still far short of the recommendations despite our rapidly expanding population and tremendous rise in violent and property crime.”
Keynote speaker for the Feb. 13 event will be Mike Walker, head investigator of the Oklahoma City 2009 police manpower study.
Walker has more than 24 years experience helping public-sector clients improve their organization, management, and operations. He has conducted studies for more than 75 local and state governments, including the Oklahoma City Police Department, on all the aspects of law enforcement operations.
Prior to becoming a consultant, Walker served as the leader of Towers Perrin’s General Management Services Public Sector practice for seven years. He has also worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and the U.S. departments of Energy, Labor and Agriculture.
During the event Shadid will outline his vision for a safer Oklahoma City and take questions from the audience.
“The safety of our citizens is our most important responsibility,” Shadid said. “Over the last 20 years our City’s population has grown by more than 150,000 people, and the geographic size of the city has grown too, but we have virtually the same number of uniformed police officers patrolling the streets that we did in 1994.”
“In 2009, an independent study, commissioned and paid for by the city, warned that morale and public safety were at risk if the city did not add hundreds of staff to its police department,” Shadid said.
“Since the study, we are actually down by 60 officers. When it comes to public safety, we are clearly headed in the wrong direction.”
“I have made public safety one of the top focuses of my campaign and I have been endorsed by both the Fraternal Order of Police and Fire Fighters Association,” Shadid said. “We are building three new fire stations without a plan for how to hire the staff for them.”
“As Mayor, I will ensure that public safety is fully funded with the necessary personnel to keep us safe.”
The final day to register to vote in the upcoming Oklahoma City Mayoral election on March 4 is Friday, February 7. For more information, contact the Oklahoma County Election Board at 405-713-1515 or the State Election Board at 405-521-2391, or visit www.ok.gov/elections/Voter_Registration.