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Oklahoma City Council approves school resource officer contract agreement, two other law enforcement reforms

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Oklahoma City Council grappled with plans for law enforcement reform, ultimately voting to advance three recommendations at itsAug. 1 meeting.

The City will move forward in developing mobile behavioral health crisis response teams, establishing a mayor-appointed Community Public Safety Advisory Board and updating the school resource officer contract agreement with the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma City Public School District.

The three approved recommendations come from alist of 39, made by the City’sLaw Enforcement Policy Task Force andCommunity Policing Working Group. Oklahoma City formed both entities in 2020, after police killed George Floyd in Minnesota and thousands of OKC residentsprotested police brutality and outlined demands for oversight and accountability locally.

Following a presentation by the OKC Public Safety Partnership, a few council members questioned the school resource officer contract update. The new contract reduces the law enforcement role of school resource officers and centers other duties including acting as role models and liaisons for community services.

“If this is really what the role is supposed to be and it's not about enforcing laws, we don't really need the presence of a uniformed police officer in a school,” councilmember JoBeth Hamon of Ward 6 said. “These sorts of goals can be accomplished by other types of community resources.”

Councilmember James Cooper of Ward 2, expressed similar concerns about the need for school resource officers if they will be serving a less of a law enforcement role.

“I unfortunately do not believe – based on sound, peer reviewed research – that the presence of law enforcement in our schools are going to create a safe environment,” he said. “It's not that I think they're going to make it more dangerous. It's that we have other remedies.”

The OKCPS School Boardpassed the contract agreement in July. City Council approved it 6-3.

OKC Public Safety Partnership plans to continue implementing reform recommendations. It will keep citizens updated via a website that is set to go live later this week.

In other news:

  • TheAsian Night Market Festival will expand this year, adding a day and moving west. The event will be Aug. 18 and 19 from 5-11 p.m. at Military Park and on Classen Boulevard. Council approved the Asian District Cultural Association’s use permit unanimously.
  • A developer isseeking $200 million in tax increment financing for its Boardwalk at Bricktown project. The proposed development will include 900 residential units, 59,000 square feet of retail space, a workforce development training center and parking garages. The financing resolution will receive a public hearing and a final vote at the Aug. 15 City Council meeting. 
  • New public art is coming to Wheeler Park via OKC’s Arts Commission. Artist Scott Henderson will create a site-specific mural – “Celebrating Wheeler Park” – that will be installed on the walls of a planned concession stand at Eggeling Stadium.
  • The City of Oklahoma City collected $28 million in General Fund sales taxes and $7.9 million in General Fund use taxes from mid-May to mid-June, an increase from the same time last year.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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