Tulsa Transit Says Security Officers Won't Carry Firearms, Will Use Non-Lethal Weapons
TULSA, Oklahoma - Some Tulsa Transit Security Officers are upset after they were told they were being stripped of their firearms starting Monday.
Tulsa Transit Representatives say they are looking to make changes to their security protocol to restrict the use of deadly force.
The security officers will still have a taser, pepper spray, and batons if the need to use force arises.
However, some officers and drivers say it makes them nervous.
“The danger is real and, if you take that gun away from us, it’s making it that much more dangerous,” said security officer Johnny Joe James.
James is one of several security officers that monitors the Tulsa Transit System and he says he encounters dangerous situations every day.
“Ones that are gang related, drug related, alcohol related, people that have mental instabilities that could become violent,” he said.
Tulsa Transit made the decision to remove firearms as they are reviewing their security policies. They believe the use of deadly force should be the last resort.
“We want to make sure that we exhaust every means of interacting with the public before using the firearm,” declared Ted Rieck, Tulsa Transit General Manager.
Rieck says they are working with security officers and drivers to learn how to diffuse situations verbally before using their weapons. But if a situation were to arise, TPD could be there in a moment’s notice.
“We have an excellent working relationship with TPD, so if there’s a situation that requires a higher level of action, they’ve been very supportive and very quick to respond,” Rieck said.
“Words that we say or pepper spray or taser isn’t always going to be the answer and there has been times that we’ve had to draw our weapons on people,” said James.
According to James, many of the security officers have a law enforcement background and have significant firearm training so he hopes they change their minds.
“If I die during that temporary time, you’re going to replace me in a week,” he said. “My family and the people that I love, they can’t replace me.”
Tulsa Transit says they are going to review their safety protocol for the next several months and they might revisit this topic, but for now, their security officers will remain armed with weapons other than firearms.