Tulsans Discuss Improving Community/Police Relations

Tuesday, July 19th 2016, 11:21 pm
By: News On 6

The commander of Tulsa's Gilcrease Division says he never intended for an article he wrote for an online police publication, to be divisive or inflammatory.

When Major Travis wrote "we are at war," he says he was referring to the officers murdered in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

The local group, ‘We the People, Oklahoma’ is calling for Yates' resignation, saying his comments are divisive, harmful and irresponsible and they don't want it filtering it down to his officers.

7/19/2016 Related Story: 'We The People' Call For Tulsa Police Major's Resignation After 'This Is War' Article

"I think, if people read the article, I'm talking about training, being prepared for these individuals who are attacking us. Line of duty murders have increased 100 percent from last year," Yates said.

He said he won’t resign and hopes to be judged on his entire career.

Yates, however, did apologize to the hundreds of people at Tuesday night’s meeting at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

They were there to talk with police about not only recent violence but to find ways to bring about serious change in the community.

Instead of finger pointing, Tuesday night was about what can we do for each other, as many came to begin the process of restoring trust in local police.

"Relationships is the most important thing when it comes to uplifting one another," T’erra Estes said.

Others, done with the talk and sick of seeing deadly police and community interactions, are ready to take action.

Lauren Wells said, "I'm just tired of having an opinion and not doing anything about it."

They came to hear what police departments, and what the local U.S. and district attorney's offices are doing to ensure accountability.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said he has confidence in the Tulsa County district attorney, Steve Kunzweiler, holding his officers accountable.

"When we have had incidences where officers were doing wrong, he didn't hesitate to file charges and tell me, ‘this is what we're going to do,’" Jordan said.

For Kunzweiler, it's simple, “Victim, is victim, is victim. And I don't care what you look like."

He ensures people it's his duty to focus on the facts, not the badge or race.

Kunzweiler said, "Is be dispassionate, look at the evidence you have in front of you, and do the right thing."

First Assistant U.S. attorney, Loretta Radford said accountability is also key at the U.S. Attorney's Office.

“We are the last opportunity for fairness and justice, we take that very seriously,” she said.

Radford said it starts with police/community relations, ”The kind of community policing that leads to trust building, is visibility."

To restore trust, she believes police must be visible to the community so they personally know who protects and advocates for them.

As far as action goes, leaders want people to speak up for each other, call police on those that commit crimes in your neighborhood, and get to know officers that pass by your home or business.