Group releases recommendations for policy updates to Oklahoma City Police Department

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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.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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