The Luther Town Board meets in another Special Meeting Monday evening. The Board will talk about how much Luther officers are paid, how many officers should be on the force, and then they’ll go behind closed doors to discuss hiring another officer.
This meeting comes at the end of an extraordinarily intense month for the police department that began with an officer’s arrest who has since been fired and charged with domestic violence.
Just two days before a stabbing on the first day of school at Luther High School, the board heard from a girlfriend and a wife of current officers who spoke out during the regular August Town Board meeting. “We citizens are concerned. Where does the safety fall for the police officers working these long shifts?” said Tonya Gutierrez.
Chief David Randall was hired as chief less than a year ago and responded noting that with another firing of an officer late last year, on top of illnesses, staffing has been tight. “I know my guys are tired. We are doing everything we can, relying on reservists to step up. We will work to make sure to make sure everything is covered. I know what the families are going through. I applaud my guys the way they stepped up. I cannot let the board take the heat for that.”
In June, the police department worked more than 250 calls, including writing 80 tickets, 72 warnings, made four arrests, and other calls. They did it with four full-time officers, two part-time officers and four reserve officers. Reserve officers for the town do not get paid.
Police Liaison Paxton Cavin said she was grateful the ladies came to the meeting on August 14 and said she appreciated their honesty.
“We have to realize that while the business side of running a town is important, we also need to put people first. I have had wonderful conversations with some of the spouses and look forward to building those relationships,” she said.
Cavin also said “our police department always makes the safety of this community their priority and we are looking at all available options for coverage while not fully staffed.”
Later that week, most of the LPD force launched into covering the stabbing incident at the high school which also launched the department, Town and school into the media spotlight.
During another Special Town Board meeting last Thursday, the board voted unanimously to move Officer Chris Tate from his part-time to a full-time position with the police department. The Board also considered a policy to put a School Resource Officer full-time at the Luther Public Schools. The agenda item brought out all of the local television reporters from Oklahoma City. The Town Board and the School Board still have work to do on the effort, with the intention that the Town and the school district will split the cost of the SRO. A full-time SRO, possibly Officer Tate, must undergo 40 hours of training before taking on the duties.
The Monday night meeting begins at 7 pm at Luther Town Hall.