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Council approves FOP contract

The Tahlequah City Council approved the 2024 contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 201 during an Aug. 21 meeting.

Tahlequah Police Lt. Dexter Scott, who is also the president of the FOP, said the agreement was an important part of retention and recruitment of the TPD.

“We were able to pass one of the biggest contracts since I have been part of the union. We will continue working with the city to improve public safety,” Scott said.

The FOP was established in 1915 when two Pittsburg patrol officers, plus 21 others, held their first FOP meeting. The group told city officials that the organization would give them an opportunity to get things through their legislature that the council would not or could not give them.

The organization ended up growing and there are now over 364,000 members and 2,100 lodges nationwide.

“We’re Lodge No. 201 and it only consists of sworn law enforcement officers from Tahlequah,” Scott said. “Everyone on the department has an option to be a member and everybody is.”

Members pay monthly dues, and the FOP holds several events throughout the year. Monies collected from certain events are used for training equipment, supplies, and can go toward scholarships.

“We also make donations to various causes throughout the community if it be the Tahlequah football team, Keys youth football, we’ve donated to robotics’ clubs, someone’s family member needing financial help. It varies, members that have involvement in those activities as well,” Scott said.

The Back the Blue Fishing Tournament is held once a year. The entry fees and funds from auctions are what the FOP profits from and all money that is donated is given back to attendees. The PD was equipped with two drones from the tournament’s proceeds two years ago.

Scott has been a member of Tahlequah’s FOP since 2015 and he said he always tried to gain as much knowledge as he could before he stepped into the role as president in October 2022.

“I wanted to make the union as strong as we could be,” he said. “I wanted to be more involved. I wanted to get more knowledge at a state and national level to bring back to Tahlequah as far as representation and education.”

Discussion on the working conditions/changes, schedules, and salaries are part of the FOP’s negotiation process and Scott said TPD has faced three major challenges within the last three years; COVID-19, the McGirt ruling, and defunding the police.

“Something we do during negotiations is looking at the last three years’ budgets and we hadn’t increased by a huge margin. The other thing that was pointed out was the years of experience we lost. That may not be ‘defunding’ but when people leave us because of financial reasons, it makes one wonder if that is the case,” he said.

The city council had been discussing FOP negotiations since February 2023 and Scott spoke with officials during an Aug. 7 meeting wherein, he advised the board to reach out to him or any officer and administrator within the department.

“It’s gotten people more involved as far as both sides. It’s actually got us to where conversations have been a lot better. I’ve had people reach out to me that I didn’t expect, positively and emotionally,” Scott said.


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