State representative requests study on law enforcement consolidation

Monday, June 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Tulsa lawmaker wants a study of the benefits of combining the state's law enforcement agencies into a single state police force.

Rep. Lucky Lamons, D-Tulsa, has requested an interim legislative study of consolidating the state's seven law enforcement agencies.

Lamons, a former Tulsa police officer, cited the state's budget shortfall and increased efficiency as reasons for the study.

``Can we operate state law enforcement with the same effectiveness that we do now with fewer people?'' he asked.

Lamons said he did not want to reduce the number of uniformed officers but that agencies might save money be consolidating administrative positions.

Previous studies have indicated that consolidation of law enforcement functions increases costs initially but ultimately end up saving about $5 million a year.

Tom Jordan, the acting director of the OSBI, does not disagree with trying to save money and improve efficiency.

``There may be some monetary savings,'' he said. ``But I think it would be limited.''

Agencies might be able to consolidate some resources and administrative functions and be more efficient, but that does not mean wholesale merger would be an improvement, he said.

Under a consolidation plan, OSBI could lose its independence from political pressures, Jordan said.

``This agency is supposed to be an objective, independent investigative organization for local law enforcement and the state of Oklahoma,'' he said. ``Any compromise to that would certainly compromise the integrity of our investigative assistance. We're not willing to relinquish that.''