North Tulsa Leaders Publicize Call for Bynum to Have Community-Driven Police Chief Search

Jan 13, 2020

Demanding A JUSTulsa organizer Greg Robinson speaks at a news conference outside city hall on Monday. Community leaders are calling on Mayor G.T. Bynum to have greater citizen involvement in his search for the city's next police chief.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Local elected officials made public their call for Mayor G.T. Bynum to have a transparent, community-driven search for Tulsa’s next chief of police.

North Tulsa leaders City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Reps. Regina Goodwin and Monroe Nichols, and state Sen. Kevin Matthews delivered a letter to Bynum last week telling him they and their constituents want a selection committee of community members to help conduct a national search for a chief who will take on racial disparities in policing, with finalists available for public forums.

Goodwin said black Tulsans are not pushing the issue to be divisive.

"We’re talking about it because we are most impacted, whether we are elected representatives, whether we’re citizens, whether we’re bakers, candlestick makers. If you’re black in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there’s a great disparity and a great injustice that is done to us by this police department," Goodwin said.

Tulsa's latest Equality Indicators report found black Tulsans are more likely to experience officer use of force and be arrested than other racial groups in the city.

Rev. Robert Turner says the black community is concerned because they’ve seen no changes after incidents like the 2016 fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed man.

"So, we must get this right now. We cannot take for granted that once this chief gets into position that our voices will be heard then, because our voices are not heard now," Turner said.

The letter also calls for Tulsa to cancel its contract with the reality show "LivePD."

"It’s a culture of policing that we are attempting to change. We believe in police as their oath says, that they’re here to protect and serve citizens. That oath does not mention exploitation of citizens at their worst," said Demanding A JUSTulsa organizer Greg Robinson.

Bynum has said "LivePD" is valuable for showing citizens what officers face on the job.

The letter asks for Bynum to respond with a plan for a "transparent, participatory" selection process by the end of Tuesday.

Bynum has indicated he’ll choose one of seven internal candidates for the next Tulsa police chief but said Monday he’ll make an announcement later this week about the search process.