Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter provided a presentation regarding the Sand Springs Policing Plan at last week's Sand Springs City Council Meeting and discussed alterations made since their last presentation. He also gave updates on ongoing actions taken by the department.
The Department plans on listing all officers, employees, council members, and City administrators online for better transparency. They removed a section of the plan calling for increased penalties. They removed a plan to build jail space for long term holding of individuals with warrants.
The Department has increased the amount of written and verbal warnings in 2017, with a third of all citations issued being warnings without fines. External vests are becoming more common. They are collaborating with businesses along Wekiwa Road to combat aggressive panhandlers.
According to Carter, the department has seen a "dramatic cut down on meth labs in the last couple of years. The department also has an officer on the Hispanic Affairs Commission who is fluent in Spanish and able to translate.
Carter also touched on current issues in the national climate such as immigration status. "If there is a victim of a crime, our first job is to protect and serve, regardless of immigration status. But we are not a sanctuary city." Carter wants anyone in Sand Springs to feel safe calling the SSPD without fear of being checked for credentials. However, he also said that Sand Springs cooperates with State and Federal investigations into individuals' immigration status and will make arrests on behalf of other agencies.
The police department has also made efforts to involve the community in review processes. Citizens have been involved on review boards for Use of Force investigations and complaints. "Nothing we do should be secret," said Carter. "We work for the community."
Sand Springs partners with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations when looking into Use of Deadly Force and In-Custody deaths.
The Sand Springs Police Department maintains an active social media presence through their official Facebook page. They will be holding a "Pop with a Cop" day at the Charles Page High School cafeteria on May 18th where citizens can meet officers, ask questions, and fellowship over a cold can of cola. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m.
The Department recently partnered with House District 66 Representative Jadine Nollan on House Bill 2159, which would authorize the Oklahoma Tax Commission to cancel the current registration on a defendant's motor vehicle should they fail to appear in court or enter a plea for unpaid fines, rather than having an arrest warrant issued. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 80-16, but died in the Senate General Government committee.
The Department recently celebrated a successful "Food for Fines" program that allowed people to pay outstanding fines and warrants without fear of arrest. More than 100 people had warrants recalled because of the event, which brought in 6,118 pounds of canned food for Sand Springs Community Services.
Officers are in their second year of physical fitness testing with the University of Tulsa.
The Department is also working on officer retention efforts. According to Carter, the department is four positions down from last year. The Chief cited competitive wages and a national anti-cop climate as reasons for difficulty in recruiting and retaining experienced officers.
In Other News:
- Council unanimously passed the Consent Agenda, consisting of "routine" money transfers and resolutions considered to be standard in nature. Councilman Jim Spoon was absent from the meeting.
- Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 17-36, adopting the Fiscal Year 2018 Master Fee Schedule. Councilor Phil Nollan commented, "Our fees are 50% higher than our competitor cities. I would like for us to take a look at that again in the future. Sand Springs has had an issue growing in the last few decades compared to other cities. A lot of things have changed to help us grow, but I feel like there's more areas we can continue to improve."
- Council unanimously approved Resolution No. 17-37, adopting the FY2018 Budget. Finance Director Kelly Lamberson discussed an ongoing negative trend in Sales Tax Revenue.
- Council sent back to committee a previously-approved plan to place a large City Logo on the McKinley West Tank. Alan Ringle, of Ringle Development, and Kenneth Benton, a resident in the area, protested the plan. According to research done by Ringle and Councilman Nollan, the previously approved logo was illegally sized for Tulsa County, who has jurisdiction over the property.
- Council approved Ordinance 1299 by a 5-1 vote with Nollan voicing dissent. The ordinance requires backwater valves in all sanitary sewer building drains. "I openly do not support this," said Nollan. "I hate to make a new requirement that will cost homeowners or new developers extra money." Ringle also spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
- Council unanimously approved Ordinance 1300, effectively rezoning 721 N. Garfield Ave. from Residential Single-Family to Residential Duplex.
- Councilman Brian Jackson gave a report on a "Sandite Power Hour" volunteer session where twenty individuals painted a hallway at Angus Valley Elementary.