Tulsa FOP President: Mayor's Executive Order Doesn't Change Promotion Process

Wednesday, June 8th 2016, 11:15 pm
By: News On 6

Buying rank is no longer allowed for Tulsa police officers or any city employees.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced his executive order, responding to the investigation done by News On 6 and The Frontier.

We revealed some officers who earned a promotion agreed to pay thousands of dollars to get other officers to retire, freeing up a spot.

This is the first executive order Bartlett has issued this year, one he says is important. But the president of the Fraternal Order of Police says the current promotion process is already fair and objective.

6/8/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Signs Executive Order To Halt TPD Officers 'Buying Rank'

When Bartlett first got wind of our News On 6/Frontier investigation on ‘Buying Rank’ back in March, it made him uneasy.

3/16/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Police: Decades-Long Practice Of Buying Rank

"In my view, didn't past the smell test," he said.

So the mayor issued an executive order which says nearly all city employees "shall execute an Affidavit under oath that no payment, gift, gratuity or anything of value has been offered, given or received."

Basically, they now have to sign a written document, saying they did not pay for their promotion.

Sergeant Patrick Stephens is president of Tulsa's Fraternal Order of Police, and he takes issue with the order.

"We're saying we live by the contract," Stephens said.

He says Tulsa Police already have promotion guidelines set forth by a collective bargaining agreement. He says the mayor does not have the power to change that.

6/3/2016 Related Story: Mayor: Tulsa Police Practice Of Buying Rank Will Stop

Stephens also maintains that no one in the department is buying rank.

"It sounds bad, but the misconception is that people are buying rank, and that is absolutely not happening," he said.

Stephens could not confirm whether officers ever paid each other to retire, thus opening up a vacancy for promotion, saying he'd only ever heard rumors of it.

But if it did happen, Stephens said those officers were already qualified for that spot, therefore, no harm was done.

Stephens said, "It's a private conversation between two people outside the purview of everybody except those two people, and its tantamount to a corporate buyout."

Even so, Bartlett says the practice reflects poorly on the department and the city.

"And it was a situation that didn't look good. Didn't look right, sounded bad; sounded like it wasn't fair. So, we stopped it by this executive order," Bartlett said.

Right now, police officers have to go through the testing process every year, but the mayor wants to change that to look more like the fire department's model. Once a firefighter qualifies for a higher rank, he or she will stay on a wait list until a spot opens up; they don't have to re-apply or test again.

You can find more on this story on our partner, The Frontier's website.

Mayor Bartlett's Executive Order:

FOP Response: