A long-awaited assessment of the Tulsa Police Department’s community policing efforts will be presented at 6 p.m. Thursday in a virtual town hall meeting.
DAC, a Non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia which works with law enforcement agencies across the country to analyze and resolve issues, will present its findings and recommendations, followed by TPD’s presentation of its short-term action plan.
The public will have no opportunity to ask questions and the report itself will not be released until after the meeting, according to the city. It can be viewed at that time at tulspolicenews.org.
The Tulsa World requested a copy of the report Wednesday through the state’s Open Records Act. The city refused to provide it. City spokesman Carson Colvin said, “Because of the importance of this report, we wanted to make sure everyone had access to it at the same time.”
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Even city councilors have not received the document, although they did receive a high-level overview of the report in private, small-group meetings with ANC officials this week.
The PowerPoint presentation indicates that the TPD has made progress in its community policing practices through the creation of a Community Engagement Unit and Community Advisory Councils and the use of body-worn cameras.
Other areas of improvement include new collaborative partnerships and improved relations with the Hispanic community, as well as “the view that TPD senior leaders are collaborative.”
The report also notes the ministry’s work to support victims of crime.
The overview indicates that gaps and opportunities for change in TPD community policies include:
The organizational culture must change.
Community engagement is too infrequent and event driven.
Marginalized communities report lower trust and a negative perception of the police.
Lack of transparency in community relations.
Community policing faces training gaps.
More positive relationships, resources and prevention are needed in high crime areas.
The CNA information session for city councilors also provided suggestions for improving TPD’s collaborative policing practices. The model focuses on four areas: trust and relationships, training, community engagement, and organizational structure.
Under Trust and Relationships, the model recommends holding regular town hall meetings, increasing transparency around complaints against the police department, and expanding foot patrols in heavily populated areas.
Recommended improvements in training include seeking various community inputs on curriculum and instruction and increasing community policing training for all officers.
Recommended changes to the organizational structure include recruiting a more diverse workforce, revising the officer performance appraisal system, and emphasizing pacing integrity.
With respect to community policing itself, the model presented by CNA suggests building community leadership and input through community advisory councils, increasing positive contact with residents, and conducting collaborative projects.
The city contracted with CNA in 2020 to conduct the assessment. At the time, the city said it required CNA to use a community-based participatory action research model to engage community members and organizations as co-researchers.
According to CNA’s report to councillors, 148 people participated in community meetings, 55 people were interviewed and 28 people participated in focus groups. Nearly 500 people responded to a survey on the subject.