History of the Government of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City has been governed by a council-manager system since 1927. The city adopted the “council-manager plan” form of government, under which the mayor and council are elected at large and the full-time manager is appointed by the Council. For administrative purposes, Oklahoma City is divided into 11 geographic areas called wards, each represented by one member on the City Council. Each member is elected for a four year term from within his or her own ward. Elections are staggered to ensure continuity of service; they are held in odd-numbered years, with half of the people’s representatives elected every two years. The Mayor of Oklahoma City serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the city to policy set forth by the Council having jurisdiction over all departments within the city government.
The Council member who is elected as Mayor of Oklahoma City each year by his/her fellow council members serves as ceremonial leader, presiding officer and spokesperson for the city. The Mayor serves on boards and commissions in addition to their regular responsibilities as a City Council member. As Chief Executive Officer of the city, the mayor votes only when necessary to break a tie vote at City Council meetings.
The City Council members are the legislative body for Oklahoma City. The council is responsible for making laws and policies which govern the city. Spending of city funds and consideration of new laws and policies brought before the council are some of its other duties:
The 11 geographical wards come together to create eight policymaking districts, known in Oklahoma City as Neighborhood Advisory Committees (NACs). Each NAC contains three representatives from each ward within its district boundary, plus one member at-large designated to serve as chairman. Together these eleven individuals form a board that serves as an advisory panel to the Mayor on issues unique to their individual districts. A mayorally-appointed Executive Director facilitates communication between the NAC board and the full-time manager’s officed City Hall staff.
The NACs and their members are the only citizen committees of Oklahoma City that have standing at City Council meetings with an opportunity to speak on all agenda items before the council takes action on those items. Each NAC appoints a representative to serve as its liaison during City Council meetings when ordinances, resolutions or other legislation of concern to the district will be considered by the council.
Oklahoma City is currently divided into 12 Public Safety Districts each with its own police precinct and fire station. These precincts include: Airport Police, Central (Downtown), Eastside, North Highland-Maywood Park, Northwest Expressway-Briarwood, Northeast, South Oklahoma County, Southeast, Southwest and Westlawn Gardens.
Additionally, the city is divided into three Special Assessment Districts which cooperate with the local police precinct and fire station to provide additional security and safety services: Maywood Public Safety, Lincoln Business Improvement District (BID), MidTown.
The Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) was officially organized in 1908 under Police Chief Harry Schwindler. In 1910, the first police station was built at Third and Grand streets. The current building on S Harvey Avenue opened in December 1986. The department has 12 precincts including one serving Will Rogers World Airport located from downtown at 31st Street & Meridian Avenue. The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office provides services to the courts and operation of the county jail system while operating as a separate agency under an elected sheriff who is not part of the city government.