Some north Tulsa men are upset how the police department is dealing with one if its officers

Tuesday, May 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Some North Tulsa men Tuesday accused the Tulsa Police Department of leaking confidential documents concerning an officer who was suspended for six days.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says this story actually begins in February of 2002 when a police officer stopped a car and requested a backup officer. No backup officer showed up, yet seven officers were parked nearby.

The officer never reported this, but someone who'd heard about it, sent in an anonymous complaint in November of 2002. Internal Affairs found the seven officers and questioned them, one was Officer Marvin Blades. Officer Blades said he didn't back the officer because he'd just come from a domestic violence call.

When Internal Affairs couldn't find Blades' report of that call, he told them it was in the computer. Investigators did eventually find it, but say it hadn't been put into the computer until January 9th, 2003 and had a fake report number on it. For that, Blades got a six-day suspension.

Some Tulsa media ran the story, referring to Blades' personnel order. These men believed that order was confidential and leaked to make Blades look bad since he'd been a part of the Black Officers Lawsuit that the city recently settled. Elwyne McFalls, Concerned Citizen: "At issue is the sneaky release by a city employee of documents that are supposedly secure." Tulsa Police Sgt Wayne Allen: "This is the personnel order and is not a confidential document. Title 51 in the state statute says any final decisions relating to the suspension, loss of pay or firing of an officer is open for public inspection."

This group does not condone what Blades did, but takes issue with the severity of his punishment. Elwyne McFalls: "In this case, it started out as a fishing expedition and when that didn't catch anything, it became a witch hunt."

The department says the six days without pay has nothing to do with Blades' race or his involvement in the lawsuit, but is a progression of punishment. Our records show Blades was suspended for two days in 1995 for giving false information, but that punishment was overturned on appeal. That same year, he was suspended for 12 days for lying to Internal Affairs. Part of his discipline was overturned, but not the 12 days. In 1993, he was suspended for two days for shooting at teenagers driving off in his stolen car. That suspension was also overturned on appeal.

The men Tuesday say white officers who falsified overtime reports several years ago received no punishment. However, records show of the 19 officers punished, six were suspended for up to 12 days, one was fired and four were charged. However, many of those punishments were overturned by a judge.

The police union has already appealed Blades' suspension. In the meantime, the people who called the news conference Tuesday are holding a town hall meeting this Friday at 6:30 PM at the Greenwood Cultural Center to address what they say are issues between the police department and the city's African Americans. Marvin Blades didn’t attend the news conference and didn't call us back when we paged, so we'll likely have to wait for his appeal for his side of things.