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Mayor Puts off Decision Regarding Police Chief's Future

Tulsa's mayor decides not to decide.

Mayor Bill LaFortune announced today he's going to wait until after the election to decide what he'll do with Police Chief Dave Been.

Been is on suspension and could either be fired or reinstated, but the mayor says it would be too political to make the decision now.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says while under intense political pressure to do something about crime, LaFortune suspended Chief Been two weeks before the primary.

Now a week before the general election, he says the decision on what to do next should wait.

Myor Bill LaFortune says, "I have not and will not allow politics to play a role in something as important as public safety. It would irresponsible to act one week before the election."

"Obviously no action could be taken, including this one, that would not be seen as being political," says former mayoral candidate Chris Medlock.

Medlock didn't think Been should have been suspended, and agrees Mayor LaFortune shouldn't make the next decision this close to an election.

Medlock says, "In the discussions I've had with him with regards to Chief Been, I've advised him to take a cautious approach so I think now he is listening to the people who have been advising him over the last few weeks."

Just before the primary, the Oklahoma Poll found that 55% of voters believed the suspension was politically motivated, 24% weren't sure and only 13% thought it was appropriate.

The police chief thinks it's politics too. In the report, Been is quoted as saying of the acting chief "he got me, he finally got me."

The report's author told of office politics dividing the departments leadership.

And in that report, Lafortune's Chief of Staff Clay Bird quotes - an aide to congressman John Sullivan - telling LaFortune "[the suspension] could cost him the election."

The final decision on the chief could be LaFortune's or Kathy Taylor's - pending on who wins the election.

Her campaign declined comment on the mayor's decision to wait.
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