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Multiple officers who resigned from Nowata Police Department cited ethical concerns

A photo of Nowata Police Department patrol cars provided by Elliot Harris on September 7, 2022.
A photo of Nowata Police Department patrol cars provided by Elliot Harris on September 7, 2022.

Multiple officers who resigned from the Nowata Police Department on Tuesday cited ethical concerns within the department and in city leadership.

Former NPD officer Elliot Harris said an incident a couple weeks back involving the department's chief and how city officials handled that situation is what caused four former policeman and one reserve officer to turn in their badges.

During the course of any arrest, Harris said officers are required to follow up with a report stating why the person was arrested.

"Our chief had told our captain not to worry about doing the arrest report, or probable cause report, because he was just going to have the charges dropped anyways," Harris explained. "So, there was 'no need' to do the report."

Harris described the incident as a potential violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Officers went to the city's manager to report the incident along with other issues that Harris said had been building up over the last few months.

Throughout the meeting, Harris said officers "begged and pleaded" that their names be kept anonymous during investigations to avoid a hostile work environment or any retaliation from the police chief.

"She agreed, and said that, you know, of course it would take time," Harris said. "That occurred on a Thursday. The very following Monday, she took all of the information that we had given to her and handed it over to the chief of police. She pretty much said 'fix it,' and that was the end of that."

What followed were work hostilities that Harris said he and the other officers could no longer handle.

Before the walkout, Harris said there were seven full-time officers and four reserve officers. Now, the police department is working to serve the community with half of that.

The department responded to the resignations on Wednesday saying the "unfortunate" turnover does not affect the safety of those living in Nowata.

The police chief and the city manager did not respond to questions for comment.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.