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.