City Councilor's Son Off Tulsa Police Force

Monday, June 22nd 2009, 9:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Nepotism laws force a Tulsa City Councilor's son to resign from the police force.  Rick Westcott's son, Chris, was set to graduate from the Tulsa Police Academy this week, but state law will prohibit him from doing so.

All sides are pleading ignorance and Rick Westcott says the state's nepotism laws may need to be altered.

Rick Westcott, a former Tulsa Police officer himself, says his son, Chris, has always dreamed of serving on the force.  He says when his son enrolled in the academy in January, no one mentioned nepotism.     

"But, he never deceived anyone, never intended to deceive anyone.  He always told everyone who his father was," said Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott.

But, Oklahoma law states police departments, or any other city department, cannot hire relatives of elected officials.  As a result, Chris Westcott was forced to resign on Monday, only four days before his graduation from the academy.

"It's simple from the standpoint that the law's pretty black and white. It's this is how it shalt be," said City of Tulsa Attorney Deirdre Dexter.

City Attorney Deirdre Dexter says there wasn't any wrong-doing in this case, just a lack of familiarity with the law.  She says nepotism laws were implemented to avoid any appearance of influence.       

"The fear that a department will either feel compelled to hire a family member out of fear that they might be retaliated against if they didn't," said City of Tulsa Attorney Deirdre Dexter.

The senior Westcott volunteered to resign his city councilor position, but says he was told because the violation had already occurred, it wouldn't change anything.  He says his son is disappointed, but remains committed to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

"There will be good things that come from this. We look forward to Chris having a very long, very wonderful career in law enforcement," said Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott.

Westcott is certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.  That means he can get a job with any other department in the area. 

Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer declined to comment, saying he can't talk about personnel issues.