Most discussions about criminal justice in Oklahoma center on our prison system, which is responsible for maintaining our highest-in-the-world incarceration rate but is dangerously underfunded. While our high incarceration rate may be the most pressing issue, law enforcement agencies are the piece of the justice system that can have the biggest impact on public safety. The evidence is clear that law enforcement can reduce crime by building strong relationships with their communities, working with them to resolve problems, and focusing prevention efforts in the geographical areas with the highest incidence of serious crime.
The Oklahoma City Police Department, led by Chief Bill Citty, has provided evidence that these strategies can help to reduce both crime and incarceration. In addition to implementing community policing strategies in recent years, the agency began arresting fewer people for minor, nonviolent offenses like failing to pay their court costs and marijuana possession. As a result, overcrowding at the Oklahoma County jail is easing while crime continues to decline. It’s a great example of how justice reform can work at the local level.
continue reading The Oklahoma City Police Department shows the promise of local justice reform