State Representative Ajay Pittman of Oklahoma City seeks to conduct Interim Study on high-speed police pursuits

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report 
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, submitted an Interim Study request to House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, to better understand the policies that outline how Oklahoma law enforcement responds to a high-speed pursuit.

She will know on Friday (July 23) if McCall has agreed to the request. 

The legislator from House District 99, in east Oklahoma City, is leading the charge to bring stakeholders from all sides of the discussion to the table. In the request, Pittman highlighted three areas of concentration for the study:

    1.  Examine the causes and policies that warrant the approval of high-speed chases in metropolitan areas.
    2.  Expose the aftermath of victims, and identify how data collection is stored and analyzed.
    3.  Explore options and solutions to preventative measures that will improve the outcomes of leaving innocent victims behind.

“I hope to find a policy that is safe for the public and the responding officers,” Pittman said. “We often see issues in black and white, but my job as a legislator is to help facilitate conversations to help us find common ground. We have seen several injuries and fatalities as a result of high-speed chases in highly populated areas.”

According to Pittman, the objective of this study is to give a voice to those citizens that have been affected by these accidents as well as address the concerns of the law enforcement members who serve them.
Pittman seeks to look at the policies that other states and large cities have implemented to protect citizens. She currently serves on the Transportation Appropriations and Budget, and the Public Safety Appropriations and Budget committees. 

Public safety is one of Pittman’s top priorities for Oklahoma.

“We may get into this study and realize what works for some cities or counties in Oklahoma may not work in others,” Pittman said. “That’s ok. What matters to me and I believe my fellow lawmakers is that we get public input and put a policy in place that promotes the safety of all Oklahomans.”

The study request comes in the wake of a series of deaths and injuries in Oklahoma involving officers in pursuit of a speeding vehicle. Pittman’s goal is to share those best practices that could reduce the number of injuries and deaths.

“There are issues that must be addressed,” Pittman said. “There are concerns regarding these types of policies, as well as the transparency around them. This study is not being requested to condemn anyone. Our focus is to find ways to resolve our public safety issues, prevent deaths, and better serve our communities statewide.”

Senate Interim studies have been approved, and Speaker McCall’s list of approved studies is expected soon. Pittman achieved one of her legislative priorities in May, with passage of a measure that changed state law to allow “bottle service” at events.

Rep. Pittman encourages citizens, including members of public safety organizations, to reach out to her office if they wish to participate in the study.

NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.