City Councilor Kara Joy McKee said the police officers she has spoken to favor the mayor’s proposed Office of the Independent Monitor and are frustrated in how the police union has handled the matter.
“When I talk to police officers, they say, ‘We are tired of the FOP getting political and delving into this,’” McKee said during a council committee meeting Wednesday.
There are typically only 20 to 25 officers who show up at Fraternal Order of Police meetings, and the majority of them are retired, McKee said.
“The police officers that I am talking to in my district say that they are feeling really frustrated because they feel misrepresented to the community,” she said. “And they are tired of us dragging our feet and having meeting after meeting.”
McKee made her remarks after Mayor G.T. Bynum presented his proposed ordinance to create an Office of the Independent Monitor. The office would be charged with reviewing police use-of-force incidents, researching best practices and making policy recommendations, and conducting community outreach.
The independent monitor would oversee the office and be classified as a civil service employee.
After the mayor initially proposed the program in January, the FOP sent a letter warning the mayor that the organization would take legal action if the OIM was implemented without the group’s involvement.
Jared Lindsey, chairman of the local police union, attended Wednesday’s council meeting. He said afterward that the FOP was never allowed to be part of the process and that he could not comment on the proposed ordinance because he had not received a copy of it.
“Had we been a stakeholder in this thing, I am not sure the product would look that much different, but maybe the roll-out would have,” he said.
Lindsey made it clear, however, that McKee had her facts wrong.
“We condemn the statements of K.J. McKee,” Lindsey said. “They are inaccurate and are not representative of our organization. We represent 90 percent of the active-duty Tulsa police officers and over 1,300 members.”
Lindsey and FOP President Mark Secrist said two-thirds of their members can’t make it to the union’s evening meetings because they are either working, or sleeping in preparation to go to work.
“Which would you rather have the officers be doing, resting for their next shift, working their shift, or attending a lodge meeting?” Secrist said.
Lindsey said the union has a strong social media network that enables it to keep officers informed about important issues. A poll of union members found that nearly 94 percent of respondents favored the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation conduct use-of-force reviews, rather than the OIM, Lindsey said.
McKee ended her remarks by saying officers she has spoken to are grateful for the FOP’s representation in legal matters but believe they are going outside their purview “when they get into this political muck.”
“I have been encouraging them to become more (a) part of their union and feel like their union represents them a little bit better,” she said.
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