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OKCPD Actions Send Wrong Public Messages

This post is not meant to be an overall criticism or indictment of the Oklahoma City Police Department, but I think more people here should speak out against allowing officers to bring their own weapons to the job, especially without the use of body cameras as well.

I also believe a recently released video of a June 24 police shooting of a person on a city bus raises more questions than it answers. I’ll get to that later in the post. Let’s deal with the officer-owned weapons issue first.

Oklahoma City Police Department Chief Bill Citty recently announced that he has reversed his previous decision and will now allow officers to bring their own rifles to the job. The local Fraternal Order of Police had requested Citty to allow them to do so, and the police chief initially refused. Citty told local media outlets the recent killing of police officers in Baton Rouge changed his mind.

The weapons will have to be approved and it’s apparently only temporary until the department purchases enough rifles for patrol officers, according to a media report, but it sets a bad precedent and sends a bad signal to the public in what has become an extremely precarious and violent summer in this country. How can any police department completely track and manage an officer’s personal weapons? It seems problematic, at the very least in terms of public appearance, even with strict controls. The local American Civil Liberties Union is against it as well.

Meanwhile, a recent administrative decision means Oklahoma City Police Department officers do NOT have to wear body cameras.

Officer-owned powerful rifles on the streets? No officer body cameras? It’s not right. It’s a bad message, and it could foster more violence.

The main argument for the weapons is that police officers don’t want to be outgunned in an active shooter situation by assault weapons, which is understandable, but that’s what SWAT teams are for even though they are problematic as well (see the last tweet in this post). It might make more sense, given the limited choices, to practice and hone SWAT-team responses to both keep the peace and protect lives rather than send a message to the public that police here are going to add to their arsenal with personal firepower.

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Mr. Lankford Goes To His Solution

Image of James Lankford

(Invite people over for a meal and enjoy the company. Just know it’s going to take more protests, getting out the progressive vote, government policy changes and even wide sweeping legislation to address the festering sore of racism in this country.—Kurt Hochenauer)

It appears U.S. Sen. James Lankford thinks he has this racism thing figured out and knows how to end it.

NewsOK.com published a story Sunday that highlights Lankford’s proposal to establish something he calls “Solution Sundays,” which essentially means inviting a member of a different ethnicity to your home for a meal on a voluntary basis.

Here’s how Lankford, a conservative Republican, put it in his own words in a recent speech:

If you're going to be part of the solution in America, maybe on a Sunday for lunch or for dinner to invite another family over of another race just to sit and have conversation. Everybody put their feet under the same table and to develop a friendship and a relationship. Every person can do that. Every person can be a part of the solution. Every person in our country can start to move that conversation a little farther. It's part of who we are. We don't solve things based on a vote in America. We solve things around our dinner table.

First, let me say this as an aside to my main point about the above paragraph: We absolutely DO “solve things based on a vote in America.” It’s called democracy, but that’s a minor quibble about Lankford’s simplistic rhetoric. Yet it’s probably important to note that Lankford IS up for reelection this year so I guess you shouldn’t feel compelled to vote for him since it won’t solve anything, anyway.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)

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Editorial Omits Higher Education Funding Cut Remarks

The Oklahoman published an editorial Thursday about the state’s credit rating, but it omitted a major element of the current issue when it comes to the state’s finances.

To its credit, The Oklahoman did urge state leaders to “heed” the advice of credit rating agencies, which help determine the interest rates on bonds, but it failed to note that at least one of those agencies, Moody’s, gave a the state a “negative outlook” mark because the legislature and governor recently slashed funding to higher education by nearly 16 percent.

The Oklahoman noted the credit agencies were concerned about the state’s unstable revenue stream and its use of one-time money to balance the budget, and it even mentioned the recent tax cuts that have contributed to the financial shortfall, but not a word on the financial demise of the state colleges and universities. NewsOK.com has published at least one story on the issue, but, again, the recent editorial omits this main part of the story.

It’s telling that it takes people outside the state to remind state leaders that it’s important to have a viable public university system. Sure, colleges and universities are raising tuition this fall, but those increases don’t cover all the costs of the cuts. This means teaching positions could remain unfilled and class sizes could grow. It could mean students can’t get the courses they need to graduate. There’s also a chance that some students here could get priced out of a college education altogether. This is in a state that already has a low college graduation rate compared to other states.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)

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