Jim Priest touts ‘LEAP’ panel’s recommendations
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
Today (Tuesday, August 24), Jim Priest, the Democratic Nominee for Oklahoma Attorney General, released the initial recommendations of the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (L.E.A.P.). In other news from the Priest campaign, the Oklahoma City attorney garnered a strong endorsement from incumbent state Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
According to a release from Priest’s campaign, sent to CapitolBeatOK, the group was created in April, bringing together law enforcement officials from across the State. Growing in membership in recent months, L.E.A.P is a bipartisan effort composed of men and women, active and retired, who serve to protect everyday Oklahomans.
“The number one job of the Oklahoma Attorney General is to protect the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Priest. “It is my goal to work closely with those on the front line of fighting crime, listen to their advice and allocate resources to implement their suggestions.” Priest has served as General Counsel for the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, and was an instructor at CLEET, the training academy for police.
In November, Priest will face Scott Pruitt, the Republican nominee for the attorney general’s post.
Priest said he recently provided a statewide survey to law enforcement officers. The questions asked revealed that the greatest criminal conduct problems the state is facing are related to methamphetamine and crimes of domestic violence. Asked for recommendations on how to cope with rising prison populations, the top answer from the officers was to promote alternative programs for non‐ violent offenders through drug, mental health, and veteran’s courts.
A majority favored continuing to provide education on Oklahoma’s laws as they change, and the Creation of a Cybercrime unit in the AG’s office. The number one administrative problem was identified as funding shortages, and inadequate staffing.
“It is imperative that the next Oklahoma Attorney General be tough on crime and smart on crime,” said Priest. “Working closely with those at the local level is the best way to accomplish that goal.”
Attorney Patrick Ryan, former United States Attorney who prosecuted Murrah building bomber Timothy McVeigh, chairs the Panel. Serving on the panel with Ryan are: Jerry Cason, retired Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol; John Wampler, District Attorney, District 3, Jackson, Kiowa, Tillman, Greer Counties; Craig Ladd, District Attorney, District 20, Carter, Johnston, Love, Marshall Counties; Rodney Bell, municipal police officer; Joe Leiter, Cleveland County Sheriff; Ed Smith, Seminole Police Chief; Rex Eskridge, Muskogee Police Chief; Scott Jay, Beckham County Sheriff; and Chad Vincent, Norman Police Officer.
Also on Priest’s panel were Emily Redman, District Attorney, District 19, Atoka, Coal, Bryan Counties; Larry Moore, District 15, Muskogee County; Rob Rainey and David Henneke, Department of Corrections Board Members; Amanda Bittle, Forest Park Police Chief; Roy Deck, Coal County Sheriff; Randy Perryman, Muskogee County Undersheriff (retired); Chris Ross, District Attorney, District 22, Ponotoc, Hughes, Seminole Counties; Sgt. Michael Bell, Altus Police Department; and Jim Duncan, Pushmataha County Sheriff.
Late last week, Priest received a widely-anticipated boost from the departing state attorney general, who is nearing the end of 16 years as Oklahoma’s “top cop.”
“Jim is an experienced attorney with more than 30 years of trial experience,” said Edmondson. “As Attorney General, Jim has pledged to continue the work done by our Consumer Protection Unit to fight fraud and scams.”
Edmondson concluded, “He will fight alongside domestic violence service providers to make sure perpetrators of that crime are prosecuted and services and resources are accessible for victims. And he will work with local law enforcement agencies to tackle our states growing methamphetamine problem.”