Unheard Police Reform Legislation Topic of Press Conference
Mike Seals - March 24, 2021 10:05 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY — Members of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus held a press conference today to focus on police reform legislation that went unheard during the House committee process.
The different pieces of legislation filed by House Democrats were common-sense measures that both red states and blue states have implemented to help foster better relationships with the communities and the police departments that serve them.
The bills in question covered a range of police reforms from requiring officers to use body cams if the department has them available to creating a database for officers with misconduct charges.
“I know from working with my colleagues and from studying what other states are doing that these reforms have strong bipartisan support,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “But in this building, we can’t even get these reforms a hearing. There is a disconnect between what needs to be done to address these issues and where our priorities as a Legislature seem to be, which is unfortunate because this issue demands urgency.”
Many of the bills filed, like House Bill 2915, which forbids officers from using lethal chokeholds, have been filed in the past.
“This isn’t something we dreamed up,” said Black Caucus Chair Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. “We have been fighting for these reforms for years. This past summer, many more Americans were exposed to the need for reform. It is time for change. We must do better than what we have up to this point.”
The members of the caucus were asked specifically about anti-protest legislation and how they would respond to members who don’t see these issues in the same light.
“It’s not just about the legislation we file,” said State Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC. “A good portion of the work we do is about having these conversations. We hear a lot from members on the other side of the aisle about their support for our positions, but we don’t see that support publicly. Maybe by continuing to bring attention to this issue and talking about these missed opportunities, we can empower more of our like-minded colleagues on the other side to stand with us.”