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LPD investigation report calls for many changes

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LAWTON, Okla._ A 29-page report released Tuesday details what changes the police department here needs to make in order to improve overall morale following a three-month internal investigation.

The report outlines many problems in the department including personality conflicts and a lack of communication between administration and officers. City officials say having this report and outlining the issues at hand is a step in the right direction.

"If we are going to spend money on a report then we need to do something about the report, not just put it on the shelf and say we did a report just to make everyone happy," says Jay Burk, Ward 4 councilman.

Nearly 25 percent of the police force gave their feedback confidentially during the investigation and a majority, as noted in the report, said morale in the department has plummeted over the years. Officer expressed other frustrations as well, including the current battle over a fair contract and low salaries; a new officer in the department makes just over $30,000 a year.  

Burk hopes with the release of this report and the implementation of new polices things will start to change.

"This is a huge attitude shift, a huge policy shift for the city of Lawton, and we're going to make it a place where people want to work," says Burk.

The roll out of the new policies and programs will time, but he says there are many things that will start right away, including a leadership team which will include the chief, uniformed officers and police personnel to discuss issues and solve problems.

Another change will be the creation of a promotions panel. Officers from other police departments in the state will sit on the panel to ensure promotions place all eligible candidates on equal footing.

"Each person is evaluated by their merits and it's not on who you know (or) who your buddy is in the police department," says Burk.

Burk has high hopes for these new changes at a time with many new faces in city government.

"The police department has a new chief, we've got a new city manager, we've got new vision, and the council wants that to move forward," says Burk.

The four-member council committee to oversee the investigation, which Burk serves on, will remain in place to ensure the changes are implemented properly and in a timely manner.  

If you would like to read the full report, you can access it here.

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