Oklahoma Budget Battle Threatened Law Enforcement Training Center

A budget dispute in the Oklahoma Legislature put the future of a partially funded tactical training center for state law enforcement at risk for much of the negotiations. The center, which has received $59 million for its initial phase, requires an additional $74 million for completion.

Wednesday, May 22nd 2024, 4:15 pm

By: News 9, Lisa Monahan


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A budget dispute in the Oklahoma Legislature put the future of a partially funded tactical training center for state law enforcement at risk for much of the negotiations.

The center, which has received $59 million for its initial phase, requires an additional $74 million for completion.

Despite objections from Senate leaders, the funding for the second phase was approved. Senate Majority Leader Greg McCortney, (R-Ada), suggested delaying the project last week. "We need to maybe just hit the pause button for a year and make sure we are doing the right thing," McCortney said.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Tim Tipton criticized the timing of the budget debate, calling it "insulting" and "insensitive" during National Law Enforcement Week, which honors fallen officers. Tipton emphasized the training center's importance in providing modern, reality-based training to state law enforcement.

"This facility is about more than any line item in the state budget," Tipton said. " this training is about preventing those [on-duty deaths] types of tragedies."

The center, located along State Highway 102 in Lincoln County, aims to centralize training currently scattered across the state. Firearms training is currently held at various gun ranges, and pursuit training takes place on a runway in Burns Flat. Tipton described the current methods as "rudimentary."

Construction on the training center is set to begin by September. Lawmakers allocated $59 million last year for the first phase, and the additional $74 million for the second phase would bring the total cost to over $133 million. McCortney questioned the project's escalating costs and lack of initial transparency. "It was $50 million last year... he asked, "How much is this really going to cost?"

McCortney recommended the state reassess the project which could include upgrades to current training facilities.

Tipton accused McCortney of trying to defund essential training. "It is astonishing that the soon-to-be pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate would interrupt this critical training center and defund what has already been done," Tipton said.

"Everyone wants law enforcement to receive good training," McCortney said.

Outgoing Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat also expressed concerns over the price tag. He responded that the project would proceed with fiscal accountability, " we will hold them accountable to make sure those dollars are spent properly," he said.

Upon completion, the training center will serve the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Despite the political friction, the project aims to enhance the training and preparedness of Oklahoma's law enforcement officers. A final rendering of the training center is expected in July. Construction is expected to take two years to complete.

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