The Tulsa police officers union is disputing a claim there’s a racial bias to arrests and use of force.
Per capita in Tulsa, black people are arrested twice as often, and subject to use of force five times as often, compared to others.
The police union and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund differ on the meaning of those numbers.
“You’ve got people here saying we’ve got a problem in Tulsa, so let’s get together and address the problem,” said State Representative Regina Goodwin.
Goodwin is part of a group asking the city to address racial disparities in policing they blame on a bias against black people.
Police say the numbers are misleading.
“We go where the victims are and chase who the reported suspects are,” said Jerad Lindsey from the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police.
A police union representative says officers are simply responding to problem areas.
“They follow the crime and go where they’re called to go,” said Lindsey. “More times than not, that’s into the African American community, where African Americans are overwhelmingly being victimized.”
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund believes the numbers tell a story of racial bias, most vividly illustrated by the shooting death of Terence Crutcher.
They want officers to choose lesser alternatives to arrests for minor crimes and they want citizen review boards for serious incidents.
“When’s it going to stop? Each time we do something, the goal post keeps moving. The last thing was body cameras, and we implemented that,” declared Lindsey.
Rep. Goodwin believes the numbers on arrests show that black people are treated unfairly – and not just for serious crimes.
“No one called an officer on me when I was stopped for no reason, when I was falsely accused of doing something I did not do,” she said.
The City has not and will not respond to the request for more action because some of the people who signed onto the letter are suing over the Terence Crutcher shooting.
Below is the letter to the City of Tulsa from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.