Republican state Senator Stephanie Bice received an endorsement in the Congressional District 5 race from the Oklahoma City local of the police union that represents officers in the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Bice is attempting to unseat first-term incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn.
The union, The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge number 123 in Oklahoma City, followed the state FOP’s recent endorsement of Bice with a strong local endorsement Tuesday at their hall on the southside.
Mark Nelson, Vice-President of the Oklahoma City local and president of the state FOP conducted the news conference.
“There was a lot of discussion about it and how we would be involved,” said Nelson. “But, honestly, the choice was very easy. Her proven track record and her unwavering support of law enforcement are two of the key things that we stood behind.”
Nelson said that over Bice’s Oklahoma Senate years, she and the FOP have had a “close relationship” and had worked together on “shoring up the pensions system” and working to increase cost of living adjustments (COLA) for police retirees.
“We want a leader in Washington DC that has our backs,” said Nelson. “…she has assured us and told us that she does not support defunding the police, while her opponent, in contrast, has stood hand in hand with Oklahoma City city councilors who want to do that very thing.”
Nelson was not specific about which city council members he was referring to.
“Law enforcement in Oklahoma will not be silent when it comes to politicians laying society’s problems at our feet,” Nelson said. “We need leaders who are interested in finding real solutions for the real problems that we’re facing.”
Bice thanked the FOP for their endorsement.
“I am so incredibly grateful for the support the men and women in blue,” said Bice. “They put our lives on the line every day for the citizens of the city in the Oklahoma [City] metro area.”
“By now you’ve heard the nationwide call to defund the police,” said Bice. “And while I recognize that there are issues in American law enforcement, as there are bad actors in every industry, we must be careful to preserve the good while working towards solutions ….”
She said that some law enforcement professionals she has talked to believe that they are underfunded.
And, she seemed to adopt the interpretation that “defund the police” means abolishing the police.
“Can you imagine dialing 911 and having no one respond to your call for help?” asked Bice.
During a Q&A session at the end Free Press asked Bice if she had ever heard her opponent propose defunding the police?
“I haven’t heard her use those words. No,” said Bice. “But, when you stand lockstep with members of our city council that are discussing it, I think that’s problematic.”
Ward 6 Councilor JoBeth Hamon and Ward 7 Councilor Niki Nice have both received criticism from the Oklahoma City FOP leadership for openly suggesting that some portion of the current budget for the police be shared by other services that might help lessen the need for direct police action in Oklahoma City.
After the slow death on May 25 of Minneapolis resident George Floyd who was in police custody was recorded in agonizing detail earlier in the year, protests started to spread quickly across the nation in the remainder of May and June in response to police violence in other communities.
There were many different ideas expressed in those protests and one of them was to “defund the police,” a vague slogan that seemed to mean many different things to different people. To some, it meant abolishing the police which seems to be how most police unions and conservative politicians interpret the saying.
But, to a larger group who used the term, it meant reallocating some resources currently provided to police budgets to provide instead more mental health and social work resources in communities.
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