McAlester News-Capital

McAlester News-Capital

THUMBS UP to the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office for purchasing body cameras.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said his department purchased body cameras for deputies — which we think is another big step toward improving transparency during law enforcement interactions with the public.

He said the body cameras cost $17,000 and were paid for from payroll savings from the 2019-2020 budget.

Community members questioned why the department didn't have the cameras already after the deputy-involved fatal shooting of 19-year-old Sayven Lane Rowland near Pittsburg on Oct. 11, 2019.

Investigators said Rowland crashed a four-wheeler and led deputies on a brief pursuit before he was shot and killed after brandishing a firearm.

District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan later determined without any video footage that the shooting was justified — but said “video would have been nice.”

Footage from body cameras can provide crucial evidence in a case, show the public what happens behind the scenes, and can help protect law enforcement officers.

We applaud the sheriff for purchasing body cameras.

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THUMBS UP to McAlester officials bringing city employees back to work.

City Manager Pete Stasiak said 21 furloughed full-time city employees were called back to work as of early this week. He added that two part-time employees were back, and a position left vacant after a retirement was to be filled.

"It's nice to have some good news," McAlester Mayor John Browne said. "Hopefully, things are moving in the right direction."

Stasiak told us Wednesday the city reduced its staff by 25.3% as it faced financial uncertainty stemming from the pandemic and other issues.

He said the city started recovering due in part to the $1,200 stimulus payments and $600 per week unemployment benefits included in the CARES Act package.

The timing is great as unemployment checks are supposed to stop Friday unless federal lawmakers pass another package.

Oklahoma Tax Commission reports show $1,368,163 for the city's most recent sales tax return — about $13,000 more than the same time last year. McAlester also received $1.25 million through the CARES program and has applied for $367,000 more.

We're glad to see so many people back at work and hope more progress is made with the unemployment rates in our community.

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