How can Oklahoma residents support the police? Say thank you.’

Mark K. Stonecipher

As we read the daily headlines about increasing violent crime in the United States and with recent calls to defund our police force, it is important to highlight some of the pioneering procedures that the Oklahoma Police Department City has already implemented to make our lives safer. .

In June 2020, City Council passed a resolution of intent to study six community policing initiatives and directed City Manager Craig Freeman to form the Community Policing Task Force. In July 2020, Mayor David Holt established the Enforcement Policy Task Force, which submitted its report containing 39 recommendations.

The police service has already proactively addressed and implemented many of the recommendations, including:

  • A full body-worn camera equipment upgrade for every uniformed officer working in the field.
  • A verbal warning before any use of force.
  • Implement a directive that requires the release of legally permitted body-worn camera video within 10 days of an incident.
  • Train 185 patrol officers from all divisions in de-escalation practices to simulate realistic critical incidents through scenario-based training to improve each officer’s ability to adapt to stress and make decisions that build engagement OCPD fundamental to the sanctity of life.
  • Expand its crisis response team program. Only 40% (8,540) of all mental health-related calls resulted in someone being arrested by the police department or taken to hospital. Additionally, of those 8,540, 6,816 people were transported by officers to a mental health or medical facility for assessment or treatment.
  • Implement a virtual reality training program focused on developing empathy, awareness, and mental preparedness in some of the most stressful situations an agent can encounter. The program includes realistic scenarios such as traffic stops, domestic violence calls and mental health crises from the perspective of the officer and the resident.

This is just a small sample of how our police service has been proactive in finding ways to implement cutting-edge reforms.

The police department was able to accomplish these cutting-edge reforms thanks to its highly professional and dedicated leadership and workforce. Unfortunately, with dwindling applications and a worrying retention rate, we risk losing the highly professional workforce that makes our police department one of the most modern and best in the United States. Applications to the Oklahoma City Police Department are down and retention of existing officers has dropped to alarming levels.

As with all other employment situations requiring a highly skilled and professional workforce, we as a city should be looking at ways to attract and retain the best. One of the obvious ways to do this is to offer better starting salaries to candidates who are competitive with other agencies in the state and nation. We should also offer competitive salaries, benefits and incentive programs to encourage our agents to stay on the job. We should provide our officers with an on-site wellness center and gym to focus on their physical and mental well-being.

These are things we can do at the municipal government level, and I will continue to advocate with city council to find ways to grow our dedicated and professional police force. Ultimately, if we want the best as an employer, we must do everything we can to hire and keep the best employees.

How can residents help? The report recommended that the police department facilitate the process of filing a formal complaint against a police employee. To do this, the ministry has set up an anonymous, easy-to-fill complaint form on its website. However, I have my own recommendation. Recently, the department added a section to its website that allows residents to “Praise an Officer.” Mark Twain once said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” So I encourage everyone to go to okc.gov/departments/police/contact-us and simply let an officer know when they’ve done a good job. In a world so hyper-focused on negativity, let’s spread some positivity by making a sincere effort to thank our hardworking, dedicated and professional police officers.

Finally, we must continue to support the police department with increased funding for equipment for the real-time crime center, a wellness center, new lab facilities, additional training facilities, a new emergency management and better salaries and benefits to compete with other agencies. . Please let your town hall know if you support these measures. However, the most important thing you can do as a resident is simply to say to our officers and police support staff “thank you for your service”.

Mark K. Stonecipher is the Oklahoma City Councilman for Ward 8, which is in northwest Oklahoma City.

Mark K. Stonecipher is the Oklahoma City Councilman for Ward 8, which is in northwest Oklahoma City. He was first elected to Council in 2015 and is currently Deputy Chairman of the Water and Utilities Trust, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Fellow of the Economic Development Trust, Riverfront Authority, Civic Center Foundation and Sister Cities. .

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