In The Know: Arbitrator tells OKC police to shelve body camera use

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Arbitrator tells OKC police to shelve body camera use: Not even six months after the pilot program began, the Oklahoma City Police Department must immediately suspend its use of body cameras, an arbitrator ruled Tuesday. Arbitrator M. Zane Lumbley sided with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123, which represents the vast majority of the city’s officers, finding a portion of the department’s body camera policy violated the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union [NewsOK].

Groups asks Gov. Mary Fallin for executive order to stop OHP card-reader program: Two lawmakers and five organizations asked Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday to stop the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s use of devices that can read financial information on cards with magnetic strips. The letter came after Oklahoma Watch reported the agency’s purchase of the devices in the midst of criticism of the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Law enforcement agencies can seize property and money suspected to have been used in a crime, even if there is no conviction [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma County jail inmate dies after not getting dialysis, family says: The latest inmate to die at the Oklahoma County jail did not get the dialysis he needed to survive and was told to quit faking, his relatives are complaining. Bruno Elias Bermea, 53, died June 7 on the jail’s medical floor, three days after police stopped him blocks from his home in south Oklahoma City for running a stop sign, records show [NewsOK].

Why Are Fewer Third Graders Failing Reading Exam? The number of third graders meeting minimum reading benchmarks has continued to tick upward in the three years since Oklahoma tied reading scores to advancement to the fourth grade, preliminary results from the state Department of Education show. That raises the question of whether the controversial high-stakes exam is working by forcing schools and parents to ensure more third graders read better [Oklahoma Watch].

The state we’re in: We tell ourselves stories in Oklahoma, often award-winning ones (“Oklahoma!” the musical ranking somewhere between college football and hydrocarbons as our greatest export), but the stories of late are bolder—dangerous, manipulative—equal parts hubris and pixie dust, laced with xenophobia and Jesus. This isn’t just about the budget or even the 55th legislative session—though its members set new standards for obtuseness, procrastination, scapegoating, and tripping over themselves—but also about an Oklahoma narrative that changed (mutated, really) in the early 1990s, when the state revealed its hatred of a functioning government, and then hit its stride on January 20, 2009, when the state revealed its hatred of a president [Barry Friedman / Tulsa Voice].

Prosperity Policy: Don’t call cuts inevitable: Some things will happen no matter what – like severe weather in Oklahoma in May and June. Other things – like cuts in support for services that help Oklahomans thrive – are a matter of choice. So don’t let anyone tell you that cuts to common education – and similarly painful ones being imposed on higher education, human services, and mental health – were the inevitable consequences of the state’s budget shortfall. That’s not true. They were the result of choices made by the Legislature [David Blatt / Journal Record]. Legislators left options that could have averted catastrophic cuts on the table [OK Policy].

Oklahoma’s economy shrinks again in fourth quarter: Oklahoma’s economy continued to slide in the fourth quarter of last year as the slumping energy industry left the state 48th in economic growth, according to data issued Tuesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state’s real gross domestic product shrank at an annualized rate of 2.8 percent, only ahead of only Iowa and Wyoming. Adjustments to the second and third quarters show that things were worse than originally thought [NewsOK].

Outgoing State Chamber chairman suggests new state budgeting method: Just before he finished his one-year term as State Chamber board chairman, Brad Krieger suggested that the state consider macro budgeting, not micro budgeting policy based on line items. Krieger didn’t elaborate on his proposal, other than to say business will be culpable if the state doesn’t do something to cure long-term budget problems [Journal Record].

Cherokee Nation receives $1 million in federal funds to increase youth health coverage: The Cherokee Nation was awarded a $1 million federal grant Monday to support efforts to increase the number of children enrolled in health coverage. The grant was part of $32 million in Connecting Kids to Coverage grants awarded to 38 organizations in 27 states by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The funding is part of a national effort to get more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program [Tulsa World]. From 2013 to 2014, Oklahoma saw one of the nation’s largest decreases in its child uninsured rate [OK Policy].

Waivers allow Oklahoma to experiment with Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act: We’ve heard a lot about waivers recently: Lawmakers recently passed a bill authorizing the state to apply for an Affordable Care Act waiver. Lawmakers debated but ultimately did not approve a waiver plan to accept federal funds for covering the low-income uninsured. Concern sporadically surfaces over whether Oklahoma will lose our waiver to operate Insure Oklahoma. What does all this talk of waivers mean? [OK Policy]

Report Claims 40 Counties in Oklahoma at High Cancer Risk from Oil and Gas Industry Fumes: Oklahoma is considered among a handful of states with the greatest cancer risk to oil and gas workers from methane and air toxics emissions in the industry, according to a new report from the Clean Air Task Force. The study found that areas with the greatest health risk are generally located in states with the greatest amount of oil and gas infrastructure including Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Colorado [OK Energy Today]. The study can be found here.

Oklahoma DPS Offering Employees Voluntary Buyouts Due To Budget Woes: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) is taking drastic measures in order to cut costs in the face of the state’s flagging budget deficit. One proposed measure is to offer employees Voluntary Out Benefits Offers. Commissioner Michael Thompson sent out a department-wide email outlining the plan. Employees interested are asked to submit a form, but the email states that not all employees who request will receive a buyout [News9].

Former Tulsa police officer to present ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense in murder case: A Tulsa County judge on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for a former Tulsa police officer who is accused of fatally shooting his daughter’s boyfriend to present evidence regarding whether his actions were justified under Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” laws. Shannon James Kepler, 55, is scheduled to appear in court June 29 for his attorney to present evidence regarding whether he was acting in self defense and is therefore protected from prosecution on charges of first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill [Tulsa World].

Extreme heat buckles highways in Noble, Payne counties: Extreme June heat buckled highways Wednesday afternoon in northern Oklahoma. The buckling is affecting both southbound lanes of Interstate 35 between mile markers 200 and 201 in Noble County. An on-ramp from the Stillwater leg of the Cimarron Turnpike has also buckled across the entire lane near mile marker 27-A eastbound in Payne County, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol [NewsOK].

OKPOP Museum submits proposal to build on land across from ONEOK Field: A vacant lot across the street from downtown’s ONEOK Field may be the future home of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture. Backers of the proposed OKPOP, as the museum is known, have submitted a development plan to a city agency that had sought proposals for possible uses for a one-acre tract of land adjacent to the ballpark [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“This lady … said he fell multiple time and passed out, and they told him to quit faking it. And he begged for dialysis the entire time he was in there, and he told them they were going to kill him if he didn’t go. They just told him to quit faking it, and they eventually sent him to a cell.”

– Rosa Bermea, whose son, Bruno Elias Bermea, died in the Oklahoma City jail three days after his arrest. Bermea, who typically got dialysis three or four times per week, did not receive treatment while in jail (Source). 

Number of the Day


Decrease in Oklahoma’s total state appropriations budget over the past decade after inflation (FY 2007-FY 2017).

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Obamacare is helping millions get needed healthcare, new survey finds: More than 60% of working-age Americans who signed up for Medicaid or a private health plan through the Affordable Care Act are getting healthcare they couldn’t previously get, a new nationwide survey indicates. And consumers are broadly satisfied with the new coverage, despite some cost challenges and an ongoing Republican campaign to discredit the law. Overall, 82% of American adults enrolled in private or government coverage through the health law said they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied, according to the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund [Los Angeles Times].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Arbitrator tells OKC police to shelve body camera use

  1. Back in the 1980s Robert Reich had a book on 4 “tales” we tell that explain our interpretations of and responses to the world thrown at us daily and how those tales played out in our personal and policy decisions. The Tulsa Voice’s excellent application of the narratives that drive policy echoes that work and extends beyond its own examples in OK, showing how the stories we tell, mostly comic books we create in our heads mimicking tv, movies, talk radio, cable “news,” etc., divorce themselves from the actual problems facing us until reality trumps (so to speak). Although many areas could be added (the OK lakes that cause earthquakes, the evil teachers’ unions that don’t really exist in OK but cause all bad education, a health insurance policy equals health care, etc.), one important one for the coming election concerns criminal justice and the stories we tell about offenders and how to stop them. The narrative about offenders and victims comes directly from Lifetime movies with the completely evil criminal and the completely innocent victim, which flies in the face of many if not a majority of actual crime victims having been offenders in the past or the victims (see child sex abuse) being victimized by trusted people, not lurkers in dark corners. And the stories the DAs and cops tell are comic books with themselves as the caped superheroes or winged archangels smiting evil which they alone are capable of recognizing. In fact, as a western OK judge once explained to me, she saw 4 types of offenders–the ones who made one bad mistake in their lives and would never do it again, regardless of the punishment; the “My Name Is Earl” goof-ups whose deeds are rarely worth the costs spent to stop them; the hard core but reachable offenders who might be turned around and have the biggest impact on crime rates with intelligent response which rarely meant the harshest sentences possible; and the truly bad guys who deserved and should have locking up for as long as possible. The latter, of course, are the ones OK builds its policies around with the cheerleading of DAs, cops, and victims who claim to be representatives of all victims (another story with little contact with reality) and every offense they commit and gets publicized is “proof” that all bad guys are alike and all good guys should smite them, even if the victims don’t want it, the cost is crippling to other functions whose loss leads to more problems and crimes/victims, and the punishment ends up turning the equivalent of high school dropouts into Ph.D.s in crime once they “graduate” from crime school with the end of their sentences. That this is a case of stories not matching with reality is the fact that the deterrence and control of crime that supposedly will occur from these comic book episodes never match what other states have achieved with different stories and mixes of policies. But when your policies are based on comic books and the voters and media are enthralled buyers, that’s what you get. It’s also why exhorting people to “get smart on crime” instead of “tough on crime” leads to comparisons of a college professor type to John Wayne and we see which wins, especially when the story authors play their scripts out publicly. And why Kris Steele’s campaign to pass the proposed criminal justice reforms in the future would be well-advised to work up their own narratives and comic books, especially ones on the “Hancock”/”Superman v. Batman” destructive nature of the current comic tale in power, rather than trust that dull stories with lots of numbers and no pictures will prevail.

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