OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says the Oklahoma City Police Department needs to adopt a new de-escalation policy, and that he wants to contribute toward its creation.
Holt spent hours listening to community member concerns during a City Council meeting Tuesday regarding police procedure in light of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as nationwide protests, including a protest in Oklahoma City that resulted in buildings burned and people arrested.
He also spoke with Oklahoma City Black Lives Matter leaders following the council meeting.
“After much thought, much listening, and many conversations, including very impactful comments made today, I am convinced that our city’s current de-escalation policy needs to be revisited,” Holt said in a statement he posted on his Facebook page Tuesday. “I am committed to working with the Council and the City Manager and interested community partners to develop and adopt a new one that reflects best practices, as quickly as is practical.”
The City Council spent six hours Tuesday discussing Police Department policies with City Manager Craig Freeman and Police Chief Wade Gourley.
Floyd died on May 25 beneath the knee of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer. Chauvin has since been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and is accused of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Massive protests, some turning violent, jolted cities across the nation. A protest in Oklahoma City during overnight hours early Sunday resulted in buildings burned and multiple arrests.
There have been several protests in the metro area, however, and most have been peaceful.
“There are many issues raised by the protests this week, and they go far beyond law enforcement,” Holt said. “Having said that, there is no question that in our city and in our nation we have work to do improving the relationship between police and communities of color. I greatly respect and appreciate the men and women of our police department. I also love our residents – ALL of them. These things do not have to be incompatible, and in fact, my empathy for both leads me to desire change that ultimately improves the situation for all.”
The meeting also involved a discussion about the Police Department Citizens Advisory Board, which Holt described as “longstanding but little-known”. Holt wants more community accountability.
“After much thought, I am convinced that the current level of community accountability must be improved. I am committed to work with the Council and the City Manager to develop and adopt a new mechanism for accountability that is independent, has strong credibility with our community, and reflects best practices, as quickly as is practical,” Holt said.
Holt also pledged to include OKC Black Lives Matter and other community leaders as the city proceeds toward the aforementioned improvements.
“ALL interested parties will have a seat at the table in these discussions. If there is anything I have been committed to in every issue I have confronted as Mayor, it is a collaborative approach,” Holt said.
City leaders also discussed the urgent need for a grocery store in the northeast section of Oklahoma City, an initiative which Homeland, the Alliance for Economic Development and Councilwoman Nikki Nice have worked on since 2018.
Holt says the grocery store project is on track, and OKC Black Lives Matter will be briefed on its progress in the coming days.
Holt concluded his statement with the following words:
“A lot of people have committed significant time and emotion this week, all in the pursuit of a more just city. I am grateful to them all and I am committed to continuing these uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Together.”