Oklahoma legislators working on introducing “Back the Blue” bill: ‘Come to OK, we will support you’

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OKLAHOMA – With all the talks (and also action) of defunding police, and the national discourse where the profession is constantly getting slandered, a state representative and a senator are trying to create legislation that will benefit officers in the state of Oklahoma.

Republicans State Rep. Kyle Hilbert and state Senator James Leewright announced on July 21st plans to introduce legislation that will increase the pay, better retirement plans, and create more supportive compensation for families of fallen officer within the Oklahoma State Police.

The effort has been coined as the “Back the Blue” legislation.

Rep. Hilbert spoke of the initiative and the rationale for getting to work on drafting it:

“We have an aging workforce in law enforcement and as these individuals retire, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to recruit police officers for the last decade.”

If passed, the legislation wouldn’t go into effect until fall of 2021, but Rep. Hilbert noted that there’s more legislation on the way that is aimed to support police as opposed to demeaning the profession:

“I hope we show young men and women in Oklahoma that if you put [on a] blue uniform, we are going to support you.”

The state rep. expects there to be some against the bill, considering the negative portrayal that law enforcement as a whole has been treated to since late-May. The message that Rep. Hilbert wants to send loud and clear is that the duo supports the work law enforcement does:

“Through and through for the most part we support law enforcement in Oklahoma.”

At this time, it isn’t clear as to where this extra funding would come from, but Rep. Hilbert explained that they need to “get the ball rolling,” on this effort. When reflecting on hos many states are actively shaming police within their cities, Rep. Hilbert had a message for those officers:

“If you’re a police officer in another state that’s not supporting you, come to Oklahoma, because we will.”

Considering the lack of support from elected officials lately with regard to police, this is certainly a breath of fresh air and a step in the right direction.

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While these two are working to defend police in the state of Oklahoma, a city councilwoman is facing public scrutiny for comparing police officers who have killed black people to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. 

Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon posted on social media:

“25 years ago at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, mass murderer Timothy McVeigh took the lives of 168 innocent people.  That was senseless violence.  That was terrorism.  The continued violent murder of Black lives by police is terrorism.  A burned car is property damage.”  

Of course, this statement, comparing situations in which black people have been killed by police (most of which were ruled justified in the courts) to McVeigh who used bombs to blow up a building and murder 168 people did not sit well with local police. 

Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police President, John George, said:

“To compare us to Timothy McVeigh…most of us, this department, lived through that.  She crossed a line there.” 

The FOP instructed its followers to email Hamon their complaints. 

KOCO 5 reached out to Hamon and asked bout what she thought about the negative response to her comments. 

Hamon stated:

“The Fraternal Order of Police has typically operated by buying the loyalty of politicians or bullying people. And while it’s difficult to be the target of their bullying, their lashing out is an extension of the same culture in our policing institutions that perpetuate the high rates of police brutality against and harassment of Black and Brown residents as well as of residents who experience homelessness, or any other lives that have been disproportionately impacted by our systems of criminalization, over-policing, and mass incarceration.

“I have built relationships with those in our community that have not had the historical power to determine law enforcement policies and practices – and are often those that fall into our legal and carceral system rather than get healthcare, economic opportunity, and access to housing.

“Black lives matter more than the status quo and being a visible leader amplifying the words of Black Lives Matter-Oklahoma City Chapter like I did when I shared their post means that those, like the FOP, who have benefited from power will continue to try to silence me.

“But my voice carries the concerns of my constituents – concerns that have been raised long before I was ever in office and that cannot be shoved to the side or silenced by bullying and intimidation.”

George said her claim of cops beings universally racist and out to kill black people is “a false narrative because we don’t have this epidemic of police officers murdering innocent black men in this country.” 

George would like Hamon to sit down with officers in an open dialogue with all facts presented instead of just her posting items on social media he says are untrue.  Despite his request, it does not appear Hamon has any intention of meeting with officers. 

George’s argument seems to have merit. The Washington Post maintains a database that keeps track of all officer involved shootings for the past few years. 

In that database, it shows that police officers kill on average far more white people as opposed to any other race.  Professor Roland Fryer, also tends to agree.

As Law Enforcement Today previously reported, Professor Fryer was quoted as saying:

“There is no racial bias when officers fire on suspects, (according to a new study by Prof. Roland Fryer), black suspects are actually less likely to be shot than other suspects.”

Here at Law Enforcement Today, we have published numerous articles that have shown the facts, figures and statistics that support Fryer’s conclusions. Conclusions based on several thousand hours of collecting and researching available data for more than 1,000 police involved shootings. 

His research found:

“In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.”

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