“The safety and protection of Oklahoma’s citizenry is of paramount priority and should always be a core function of government,” proclaimed Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb in an August 28 op-ed column berating opponents of a proposed salary increase for Oklahoma State Troopers.
State troopers “are present day in and day out, at tremendous sacrifice, in all corners of Oklahoma,” Lamb continued, scolding the ingrates who do not support additional funding to train additional troopers and enrich the salaries of those already on the force. Refusing to spend more money on the OHP “will further place the public’s personal safety in jeopardy,” he warns.
Lamb, a former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service, offered only a passing allusion to the fact that in 2015 the Oklahoma legislature approved a 22.8 percent across-the-board salary increase for OHP troopers. In making his case for additional tax-plundered wealth to be channeled into the OHP, Lamb counted on public ignorance of an August 18 incident that demonstrated beyond dispute that troopers are trained to treat “officer safety,” not “the public’s personal safety,” as “paramount” in any encounter with the citizenry they purportedly serve – even a helpless driver suffering a critical medical emergency.
At about 3:00 am on August 18, a construction worker saw a car swerve off the Turner Turnpike near Mile Market 146. After the vehicle embedded itself in a ditch, the construction worker – who was the actual first responder to the emergency – sprinted over to the scene. He found the driver slumped over the wheel and sweating profusely, but exhibiting no signs of intoxication.
Acting as the public has been trained to, the Good Samaritan called 911. Within five minutes, two of the intrepid heroes from the OHP who, according to Lt. Gov. Lamb, were serving the public “at tremendous sacrifice,” arrived at the crash site. As is generally the case when police respond to an emergency, matters became immediately and dramatically worse.
One trooper tried to get the driver’s attention and demanded that the driver put his car in park. The dazed and obviously ailing driver could not comply. A few seconds later the trooper used a nightstick to shatter the driver’s side window, and instructed his comrade to do the same on the passenger side.