Police Photograph with Gay Caption Results in Owasso City Investigation

Tuesday, January 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A picture of some scantily clad police officers is causing quite a stir in Owasso.
The Owasso police department says it's a practical joke that went bad. The picture was anonymously mailed to the Owasso city manager's office.

In the photograph all of the five police officers and their supervisor are just wearing shorts, gun belts and police hats. They are standing in front of an Owasso squad car. The caption reads, "Gay officers coalition, we're not marching in a parade, we're escorting it."

Acting Owasso Police Chief Stan Motto says the photograph started out as a practical joke. "They had these pumpkin shorts made up and the photo was supposed to be a prize for the best costume at their closed, police Halloween party," explained Motto. The party was for Owasso police officers and their families only.

Motto says his officers told him they had no idea the caption was added to the picture until after it was awarded. "The caption does concern us,” Motto said. “The police department feels it is offensive. The officers were outraged when they saw the caption on the photo." He says the individuals involved didn’t use the best judgment when the photo was taken. An investigation will look at policies and procedures that deal with the use of city equipment and officers' conduct. "The officers never wanted the photo to come out and I'm sure they're saddened for any people who will be offended by it," he explained.

The chief says he hopes this won't tarnish the image of his department. He says his officers, including the ones in the photo, are very good at what they do. Motto says clearly the picture is inappropriate and he'll investigate the possible misuse of city equipment. But he says he hopes the community will understand that he believes his officers’ intent was to be humorous, not hurtful.

Two of the officers who posed in the photo have since left the department and now work for the Tulsa Police Department. The acting Owasso city manager expects to have the investigation wrapped up in the next couple days.