OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As police departments across the country are under more scrutiny by the public, a group in Oklahoma City has released new recommendations for the Oklahoma City Police Department.
For more than a year, officials say service professionals, lawmakers, activists, organizers, religious leaders, mental health experts, advocates for the homeless, and others participated in listening sessions, interviews, and virtual meetings.
As a result, organizers came up with a list of recommendations that could help improve the Oklahoma City Police Department.
On Tuesday, the city released the preliminary recommendations, which are as follows:
Change the Police Department’s de-escalation procedures
- Highlight de-escalation as a core department value by elevating it to the policy level – not specific procedures or rules of what to do in a particular situation, but a guiding principle to be followed at all times.
- Revise the police use of force policy to include levels of reporting and review based on the severity of the use of force.
- Formalize and strengthen the police Use of Force Screening Committee.
- Provide a public-facing dashboard (and raw data) on use of force and other police actions.
- Interview officers involved in a shooting before the end of their shift, instead of the current 48-hour waiting period.
- Prohibit officers from viewing video evidence before providing an interview about a critical event like a shooting, balanced with an understanding that nobody’s recollection is likely to exactly match video evidence.
- Increase the budgeted number of officers with crisis intervention training.
- Consider preferences for people with mental health experience, certifications or degrees, or social work experience for Police Department positions.
- Create a Crisis Intervention Committee to focus on citywide mental health response.
Provide independent law enforcement accountability to the community
- Assess the membership design of the current police Citizens Advisory Board (CAB), including who is on the board, appointment transparency and term limits.
- Change the scope and authority of the CAB, improving its ability to influence police accountability.
- Engage in a comprehensive public education campaign to highlight the CAB’s work and authority.
- Add an electronic way to anonymously file a complaint about police.
Improve crisis response training for police
- Develop a specific and comprehensive training plan to ensure officers trained in crisis intervention have enough support in the short- and long-term.
Provide alternative response to mental health calls
- Issue a formal request for information to determine what community resources are available to begin an alternative response model locally.
- Include gathering and tracking mental health crises into the record management system already in development, making specialized responses more available especially to frequent callers.
- Conduct public education and community training on how best to call for emergency mental health needs, to help provide dispatchers and first responders the best information.
- Continued training for 911 call takers and dispatchers in crisis intervention, script protocols and more.
Focus on law enforcement youth outreach
- Create a Youth Advisory Board with direct, monthly access to the Police Chief.
- Consider holding special sessions of the Community Police Academy for Youth.
- Ensure that current youth outreach programs are prioritized, well-funded and part of a public information and education effort.
Create a neighborhood safety/violence interruption program
- Create an exploratory committee that vets community resources critical to interrupting patterns of violence.
- When the committee provides a program design, issue a formal request for information to identify a provider.
Improve police officer access to mental health services
- Continue to implement recommendations from Code-4 Counseling, a Police Department consultant exploring ways to improve officers’ mental health.
- Require peer support members to compile monthly statistics of the number of contacts, services needed, referrals given and follow-up service.
- Formalize a recommendation for a Hospital Response Team for injured officers.
- Develop a comprehensive Post Critical Event Guide.
- Expand the number of full-time licensed professional counselors available to police staff.
- Create a police fitness program.
- Provide bi-annual education and training on emerging issues, coping skills and officer wellness.
Expand law enforcement homelessness outreach
- Incorporate issues regarding homelessness into systemic training for crisis information so officers know about appropriate resources and departmental guidance on discretion for low-level offenses.
- Consider modifying ordinances regarding quality-of-life crimes to avoid criminalizing homelessness.
The Law Enforcement Police Task Force and Community Policing Working Group will receive the recommendations. Their feedback will then be considered for a final report, which will be delivered to the City Council.