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Last updated Jan. 20, 2020
No knock warrants
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. In fact, across Oklahoma, 149 police entities applied for and received more than 1,500 items from the Department of Defense related to combat, surveillance, transport and other purposes, according to Oklahoma Watch analysis of federal data from 1998-2015.
Military style training
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Locally, the city of Tulsa founded a commission on community policing. It released an action plan that, among other measures, included:
"Currently In Process: Integration of “Blue Courage” program into basic academy. Development of TPD “Leadership Academy”".
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. State law requires the government to prove a property’s connection to a crime by the low standard of 'a preponderance of the evidence' in order to forfeit it. Oklahoma law enforcement agencies also get to keep up to 100 percent of the assets claimed through forfeiture.
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. Reporting suggests that while many towns and cities in Oklahoma do not have formal quotas, but officers still "feel pressured" informally.
Cost of misconduct
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
The Oklahoma Reclassification of Some Drug and Property Crimes as Misdemeanors Initiative, also known as State Question 780, was on the November 8, 2016, ballot in Oklahoma and was approved as an initiated state statute. Legislation in 2019 made the effects of SQ 780 retroactive. In other words, individuals serving time in prison for simple possession may request to have their felony sentences commuted.
Objective justification for stops
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). Police stops can be made basically at the will of the officer under the standard of "reasonable suspicion."
Reporting stop details
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found).
Reckless civil rights violation
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law which eliminates the requirement that an officer must "willfully" deprive another's rights in order to be prosecuted
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct.
Oklahoma has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity. Locally, in 2011, workers at a small hospital in Oklahoma called the police for help subduing a patient. The officers ended up killing the man in their attempts to restrain him. They were protected by qualified immunity because the officers had not broken a “clearly established law.” This requirement is extraordinarily difficult to meet because it requires the existence of a past case (in which a law was broken) that is practically the same as the current case.
Mental health response
Oklahoma's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services offers Crisis Intervention Training to law enforcement agencies that request the training. However, larger municipalities like Oklahoma City rarely have enough CIT trained officers to deal with the growing amount of mental health crises. Notably in Tulsa there are Community Response Teams which pair police officers with mental health workers during crisis situations.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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