City of Sand Springs adopts new 2017 Policing Plan

Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter speaks at a City Council Meeting.

Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter speaks at a City Council Meeting.

The Sand Springs City Council recently approved the 2017 Sand Springs Policing Plan. The department created their first policing plan in 2016 following national discourse on race, bias, and social injustice. The plan identifies six pillars that will help the department to better serve the public while effectively enforcing the law and promoting social justice.

Pillar 1: Building Trust and Legitimacy

In 2015-2016 the Sand Springs Police Department greatly increased the amount of warnings given during traffic stops to help combat accusations of "revenue  collection." According to Police Chief Mike Carter, nearly half of all traffic stops result in warnings instead of fines.

"There will always be traffic citations because that's what we're out there to do; enforce traffic laws," said Carter. 

SSPD officers will participate in and achieve the certification levels offered by CLEET.

The department will take steps to ensure that citizens may file a complaint for investigation. 

All SSPD officers have been issued business cards which identify them by name and badge number. The cards are given out on routine contacts as well as to anyone who wishes to file a compliment or complaint. 

The department aims to keep a more formal appearance to encourage approachability. Officers are allowed to utilize external body armor, but weapons are not allowed on the front of the vest. 

The department prides itself on its transparency. A seventeen-year span with zero shooting incidents came to an end in 2015, and video footage of the two incidents that year were released to media within three days. They have a policy of not charging fees for electronic document requests.

New officers are under immediate probation for a twelve-month period.

The department has had only one grievance filed since 1993.

The department is proactively working with local businesses to combat drug manufacturing and aggressive panhandling. 

The department employs a Spanish-fluent officer on the Hispanic Affairs Commission.

Regarding immigration enforcement, Carter says that "we're not a sanctuary city, but we are here to serve all people, even undocumented, if they are the victim of a crime." When responding to a report of a crime, SSPD officers will not inquire as to the immigration status of the victim. 

Pillar 2: Policy and Oversight

The department has two instructors who attended the Fair and Impartial Policing - Train the Trainer program that was sponsored by the COPS office of the Department of Justice. These officers in turn train all SSPD officers in anti-bias policing. The training centers on the belief that all people have some implicit bias.

The department has adopted a policy of consulting with non-police community members for input regarding complaint review. These representatives receive Use of Force training before participating.

The SSPD became the first department in the State of Oklahoma to formalize an agreement with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to conduct investigations into any officer-involved shooting resulting in injury or death, and in-custody deaths.

Pillar 3: Technology and Social Media

The SSPD has been using body cameras since approximately 2008. They were deployed department-wide in 2014.

The SSPD launched a Facebook page in March of 2016. The page has just under 4,000 "likes" at press time. The department uses the page to educate the public about ongoing crime problems, crime trends, and investigations in which the public's involvement is helpful. 

All officers carry a non-lethal weapon at all times and all patrol units are equipped with a Stinger tire deflation unit to help end pursuits. The department will also cease pursuing suspects if the situation begins to pose a likely danger to the community. 

The SSPD recently helped the Sand Springs School District obtain and install security cameras and a Lobby Guard system that requires all school visitors to scan a valid Oklahoma ID. That scan immediately identifies sex offenders and violent crime offenders. 

Pillar 4: Community Policing and Crime Reduction 

The SSPD participates in a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team with the cities of Bixby and Sapulpa, called South-West Area Tactical. The SWAT team employs a full complement of crisis negotiators with training in advanced levels of mental health. During the team's history, they have never injured or killed any subject.

The SSPD has a philosophy of community involvement through positive contacts. Officers participate in Neighborhood Watch and HOA meetings to hear first-hand concerns from the community. 

The SSPD recently launched the "Pop With A Cop" program where officers and City officials hold meetings in each of the City's Wards to meet with citizens and talk about the city.

The SSPD has never worked on quotas or taken fine revenue into account as it relates to enforcement efforts. The department claims some of the lowest fines in the metro area and looks to minimize increases. 

The department held its first-ever "Food for Fines" program last year, allowing citizens to pay off up to $200 in fines with non-perishable food donations to Sand Springs Community Services. The event granted temporary amnesty to individuals with outstanding warrants, allowing them to set up payment plans and get back in good standing with the department. The department also allows for community service to reduce or eliminate their fines.

The department also partnered with State Representative Jadine Nollan and State Senator David Rader on House Bill 2159, which sought to keep people out of jail while still holding them accountable. 

The department has instituted a policy of limiting officers in how many citations they may issue during a single traffic stop. Officers are required to attain supervisor approval before issuing more than three citations to one individual.

Individuals held in municipal jail on open charges are released within 72 hours as a matter of policy to prevent the risk of causing individuals to lose employment, as well as family strife, medical issues, etc. 

Pillar 5: Training and Education

Approximately 75% of all Sand Springs patrol officers are currently trained in advanced mental health techniques such as the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model of police response to mental health situations. The department aims to have all officers trained by the end of 2017. 

All SSPD officers attend use of force simulator training instructed by the Oklahoma Municipal Insurance Group. The training covers shoot-don't shoot simulations, verbal interventions, and non-lethal force simulations.

All SSPD officers are trained in Verbal Skills, with focus on de-escalation and officer approachability. All SSPD officers attend annual training on the topic of custody and control techniques. Current policy discourages the use of force on children, elderly persons, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. All officers are required to train and certify twice  year in firearms training. Officers are required to score 84% on a more complicated course than is required by the State of Oklahoma.

The department is training dispatchers and jailers in suicide prevention. The new jail facility is being designed free of potential hanging points with attention to any other ways that a suicidal subject may use the facility while in crisis. 

The department has a goal of achieving National and State Accreditation. 

Pillar 6: Officer Wellness and Safety

The department aims to ensure that officers receive the best training available and equip them with the best tools and resources. Every officer is equipped with body armor and tactical tourniquets. Body armor and seatbelts are required.

Any citizens arrested for resisting arrest or assaulting an officer are remanded to State court instead of municipal court. The department maintains that citizens who view an arrest as unjust must express their concerns through the judicial system, not during the arrest. 

SSPD officers are provided with gym membership and access to the city fitness center. Officers are physically tested by University of Tulsa students in the Exercise and Sports Science Program. The program tests officers for Cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. 

The SSPD has authorized pay increases amounting to nearly $10,000 that will propel Sand Springs to the third-highest paying community in the Tulsa Metro area. Previously Sand Springs was eighth.

The department is also making changes to their hiring process and standards that have kept some potential applicants from applying. The department requires either 64 hours of college or time served in the U.S. Military. Previously they required four years of service, but that number is now reduced to two years.

The department will also lessen restrictions around visible tattoos due to the culture change and greater acceptance of body art. 

2016 Sand Springs Police Department Statistics

Calls for Service: 21,178
Traffic Citations: 4,077
Written Traffic Warnings: 2,065 - does not include verbal warnings.

The following statistics refer to reports of crimes only, and does not indicate crimes resulting in a conviction.

Homicide: 1
Rape: 4
Robbery: 7
Assaults: 210
Burglary: 88
Larceny: 508
Motor Vehicle Theft: 68

Use of Deadly Force: 0
Tactical Vehicle Intervention: 0
Impact Weapon Use: 0
Less Lethal (non Taser) Use: 0
K-9 Bites: 0
Taser Use: 6
Physical Control: 5
OC Spray Use: 1
Pursuits: 11
Excessive Force reports: 0

The Mission of the Sand Springs Police Department is the protection of constitutional rights, protection of lives, reduction of criminal activity and fostering of community partnerships. This shall be accomplished by each employee being empowered to provide the best service possible. Our relationship with the Citizens of Sand Springs shall be the foundation for this success. Our legacy within this community will be service with honor, treatment of people with dignity and dedication to excellence.