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4.12.22 – OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Fox25

Lawmakers are once again trying to unify public safety agencies in the state. Senate Bill 1612 passed committee on Tuesday, which would bring together the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Public Safety — which includes the Oklahoma Highway Patrol — under one umbrella.

The legislation would create a consolidated Department of Public Safety in the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Unification, Recruitment, and Retention Act of 2022.

Rep. Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City), one of the proposal’s sponsors, explained why he thinks consolidating law enforcement is the best way forward. According to him, “It will advance public safety, and I think it will advance the ability of our boots on the ground officers to continue to advance in state law enforcement.”

Regarding the impact this legislation would have on public safety and law enforcement in the state, he shared that, “The idea behind putting everyone under one board is it will advance… a public safety mission [because] we’ll have one uniform vision for public safety in the State of Oklahoma. Right now we don’t have that.”

Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant has been involved with this bill’s drafting.

The sheriff asserted that, “We provide a service for the citizens of Oklahoma and we want to make sure that the citizens of Oklahoma… get exactly what they deserve, and that’s better law enforcement for everybody around.”

Echols and his colleagues have been in contact with a number of partners as lawmakers seek to modify the public safety landscape in Oklahoma. “We were able to bring alongside a lot of our local law enforcement from our state chiefs’ association to our state sheriffs’ association,” the representative stated. Bryant, along with Dewey Co. Sheriff Clay Sander, were brought in to provide prospective from law enforcement, according to the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association.

At about noon on Tuesday, legislators amended one aspect of the bill that would have created a commissioner position to oversee the new agency. Lawmakers are instead proposing a nine-person board to take up that responsibility.

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