Newly-formed Unified State Law Enforcement Commission seeks to combine top Oklahoma agencies

Oklahoma Politics

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new commission of top state law enforcement and state officials will soon join forces to explore the possibility of combining the state’s three public safety agencies after Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 371 this week.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, is the author and says the Unified State Law Enforcement Commission will consider ways to unify the state’s three public safety agencies to increase efficiency and better serve the public.

“This is an idea we’ve been working on for several years now—somehow unifying our state’s public safety agencies to improve services through better collaboration and training,” David said.

The Commission will study, evaluate, and make recommendations for combining the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDDC), and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) into one public safety agency.

“I also want to make sure our law enforcement personnel are protected and get the same high-level training across the board, so they can move easily from one area of law enforcement to another. This would open up more career possibilities for them whether they’re highway patrol and want to go into investigations, drug enforcement or another area, they would be able to easily pursue those opportunities. Having more career flexibility would also help greatly in improving retention and recruiting, which would ultimately improve public safety overall when we have a larger highly-qualified, law enforcement community,” said David.

The 8-member committee will make recommendations regarding the best methods to ensure accountability within a unified state law enforcement agency and to address public corruption. 

Members of the Commission will include the DPS Commissioner, OSBI Director, OBNDDC Director, the Cabinet Secretary of Public Safety, the state Attorney General, one governor appointee who will serve as the Commission’s chair, and one member each from the Senate and House selected by the Senate Pro Temp and House Speaker.

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House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, carried the measure in his chamber.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity of beginning the conversation of the benefits and potential pitfalls of unifying our various state law enforcement agencies,” O’Donnell said. “We’re hoping that by combining resources, we can create some economies of scale and better oversight. This task force will help determine if that is feasible.”

Terry O’Donnell

The Commission’s findings must be submitted by December 1, 2021, to the Governor, Senate President Pro Tempore, House Speaker, Senate and House Public Safety Committee chairs as well as to their chamber’s minority leaders.

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

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