Oklahoma law enforcement, community leaders converge to address police practices
Law enforcement in Oklahoma teamed up with activists to approve a list of 20 items that need to be addressed between police and the community.
After a day of discussion, a group that included police chiefs, sheriffs and community leaders signed the list of items.
The group, known as the Police and Community Trust initiative, was created last February. Wednesday was their inaugural summit.
Wednesday's business at hand was taking broad areas of concern and drafting actionable items to implement within law enforcement agencies.
"I am very happy to report, that of the 21 action items, 20 items were approved by a vast majority," said Dwain Pellebon, PACT chairman.
Some of those items included stronger law enforcement presence and engagement at community events, educational brochures on interacting with police and implementing anti-bias training.
The initiative is designed to build genuine trust between law officers and the communities they serve. A number of agencies outside of law enforcement were also represented, including leaders of local branches of the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, National Alliance on Mental Illness, YWCA-OKC, Raindrop Turkish-American Cultural Center, and the MLK Prayer Breakfast Committee.
Representatives of Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Office of Disability Concerns also participated in the summit.
- Related to this story
- Video: Inaugural P. A. C. T. Summit (2016-01-27)
"It has everything to do with collaboration, continuous collaboration on the issues that affect the community. Everybody has the tendency to look upon law enforcement as a negative, but it's like anything else, if you don't address your concerns they won't ever be addressed," said Garland Pruitt, president of the NAACP of Oklahoma City.
"We've got to be able to come to the point to where we can have open dialogue, open debate about how we treat our citizens. They have the power to de-escalate at any time, so they're in more control than we are. So, with that in mind, we have to address those issues as we're confronted with them," Pruitt said.
"We want to do things that create the best possible outcome on anything we respond to. There's no doubt we can do a better job of that," Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said. "So much of what we do is dependent upon the community having a willingness to call us and trust us and talk to us."
"We have a responsibility on how we react with the community, but the community also has a responsibility to understand what our job is and how they interact with us. In the minority community, over the years and especially right now, if there's that distrust, then they're not going to cooperate. They're not even going to want to deal with police," Citty said.
"We've changed policies and procedures recently over a lot of issues that really go in line with what we've talked about today. I know in our training in Oklahoma City, we need to do more de-escalation and build that into our use of force training on an ongoing, constant basis," he said.
"We won't reach everything within a year that we'd like. Everybody agrees that some of those things are going to be difficult. There's going to be some things that take resources, that take money, at a time when economically it's tough, dollars are tough. There may be some things that we can't do as well as we would like, but the issue is looking at it and seeing what we can do," Citty said.