Community reacts to new, controversial Oklahoma City Police policy

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OKLAHOMA CITY-- There is growing reaction to a controversial decision by the Oklahoma City Police Chief.

Chief Bill Citty announced this week officers can carry their personal rifles along with department issued weapons.

It is a move applauded by the police union, but some concerned citizens and groups spoke out about accountability at a city council meeting Tuesday morning.

They are concerned about police getting more fire power without more accountability especially since the use of body cameras by police is now on hold.

"May 25 my brother lost his life. He was shot to death in the street by a police officer,” Kirk Hesseltine said. “We're dealing with eye witness and police accounts that don't coincide.”

Derek Prophet was shot and killed by an Oklahoma City police officer.

Police say prophet came at the officer with a knife.

Prophet’s family says they will never know for sure and believe body cameras would have provided some closure.

However, the lack of officer body cameras is posing another issue.

"I think the biggest concern in the community is that we still don't have body cameras. So if we can't get the body cameras, but then the FOP wants to now have rifles..."

"Our concern is the higher lethality of weaponry that police officers have with no accountability,” Grace Franklin of OKC Artists for Justice said.

But FOP officials say these are two separate issues and rifles will not be used like handguns officers carry now.

"For the worst scenarios. Man with a gun calls. Active shooter calls. Those types of things,” Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police President John George said.

“So I think there is a little bit of a misconception going on out there, and it's not accurate."

Some say more fire power is not the solution.

"We just don't think there is a definitive need for such a seemingly aggressive strategy right now,” Black Lives Matter OKC Reverend Sheri Dickerson said.

"Throwing more guns at this situation is not going to make police officers safer. It's not going to make those communities safer," Ryan Kiesle of the ACLU said.

"What we really need are institutional changes, political changes. changes in our sentencing laws, changes in things like the war on drugs which causes a lot of unnecessary encounters between civilians and law enforcement that often can become confrontational and lead to violence,” Kiesle added. “Those are the solutions that we need."

"I understand the community, the minority community for accountability and openness. They feel they want those cameras out there, and so do I,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill City said. “Most officers do, too, because in most cases it really helps the officers."

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