Two City Councilors, Their Constituents Call For Chief Palmers Firing

Saturday, September 8th 2007, 9:27 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa's police chief is facing a flood of controversy in his first week as the city's top cop. Chief Ron Palmer is sparking a firestorm among north Tulsans who say he is racist. Two Tulsa city councilors were already calling for Chief Palmer's removal two days after he took office. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage reports this weekend, those councilors rallied support from their north Tulsa constituents.

"The community doesn't like him. He's never tried to get along with the north community. He's never done anything beneficial for the north community,” said Tulsa City Councilor Roscoe Turner. “The people are sick of him, they had enough of him when he left five years ago, we've still had enough of him."

At a rally on Saturday, a group of north Tulsa residents say their sheer numbers speak volumes. Many question the mayor's choice of calling up retired Chief Palmer.

"He sent tanks in here like we was in Iraq," said north Tulsa resident Alice Smith.

"The community feels betrayed," said Officer Derrek Lewis, President of the Tulsa Black Officers Coalition.

Officer Derrek Lewis says north Tulsa didn't have any say in who would be the city's next chief.

"We were looking forward to an opportunity to have somebody who didn't have the history and baggage Chief Palmer has," he said.

Palmer told reporters this week the perception that he's not sensitive to racial issues is inaccurate.

"I feel, and still feel, after ten years I established many good relationships in north Tulsa, and those will continue,” said Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer. “I'm anxious to start new relationships in north Tulsa."

Palmer says he hoped officers and citizens would give him a chance to prove himself before calling for his firing.

"Time will tell, but just because you said you changed doesn't mean we're gonna run and believe that you've changed," said Officer Lewis.

"It's a new day, a new dawning, just a great opportunity to move forward if people will allow it to happen," Palmer said.

Officer Lewis says Chief Palmer has a meeting planned with the Black Officers Coalition for later this week. In the mean time, Lewis says the mayor's pick will not keep them from doing their jobs.