OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – 2021 saw an all-time high of police officers shot and killed in the line of duty. A report released late last year from the National Fraternal Order of Police showed ambush-style attacks on law enforcement increased over 126% from 2020.
Both sides of violence, from police brutality, to police officers being attacked, have been heavily shown in the media.
Local law enforcement agencies, such as the Oklahoma City Police Department, are placing an emphasis on bettering its relationship with the community through multiple programs in hopes of reestablishing respect for authority while maintaining a safe community for all.
Last summer, OKCPD released body camera footage of an officer’s vehicle that was rammed multiple times by another driver. Moments later, the suspect opened fire on the officer, who was trapped inside his car.
This is just one instance of officers randomly being attacked. The ambushes, though, are on a rise nationwide.
“We understand this isn’t the general public doing this, but what needs to be had is a conversation about respecting law and order and the value of law and order,” said Mark Nelson, vice president of the OKC FOP.
Nelson said these acts of violence against law enforcement are a threat to society as a whole.
“If someone’s violent enough to attack or assault or shoot a law enforcement officer, what are they going to do to a citizen if they feel like it?” said Nelson.
Which is why OKCPD is placing an emphasis on their community outreach programs: to strengthen its relationship with citizens.
“Getting out into the community and getting that information out on, as a police department, what we do and the services we provide, because I think with the more knowledge citizens have and they see it firsthand, then the better experience that they walk away with that interaction with an officer,” said Capt. Valerie Littlejohn, public information officer for OKCPD.
From going door to door in neighborhoods to introduce themselves, to mentoring youth in the metro, Oklahoma City Police are putting in the effort.
“We’re just men and women trying to go out and help protect the citizens and that’s what we’re just trying to do,” said Capt. Littlejohn.