City councilors told of planned gang sweep
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2012
7/19/12 at 5:32 PM
Tulsa will be conducting a multi-agency gang sweep in the next few weeks, the police chief told city councilors Thursday.
Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the sweep is not in response to recent criminal activity but to keep pressure on local gangs.
"The only thing we can do is to try to go after these gang members, get them with guns (charges), get them with other crimes, and get them off the street so they're not breathing the same air we are," Jordan said.
Two men arrested Thursday in connection with the fatal shootings Saturday at Best Buy have possible gang ties, according to police.
Police believe that Scott Dewayne Norman, 34, was the target in the shootings, which they say was gang-related and might have been in retaliation for previous homicides. Graydon Wesley Brown, 58, was at the store with his 10-year-old daughter when he was struck in the chest by a stray bullet.
Both men died at St. Francis Hospital.
The chief said he understands people's concerns about random shootings, and police are doing everything they can in response.
Council Chairman G.T. Bynum invited the chief to address the council meeting.
"I want these guys in the gangs to feel constant, crushing, unrelenting pressure," Bynum said.
Jordan said the biggest thing the city can do to support the Police Department is to provide funding for more officers.
"If we don't have the community's help, it won't happen," he said.
Tulsa Police Department has 740 officers but would like 830 by 2014, Jordan said.
But even 5,000 officers won't eradicate the problem without entire city's cooperation and condemnation of gang violence, wherever it might occur, he said.
"The genesis of gang affiliation has nothing to do with race -- it has to do with socioeconomics," Jordan said, stressing that the gang problem is citywide.
Sgt. Sean Larkin, head of TPD's gang unit, said about 2,000 people with gang association have been identified in Tulsa, which is below the national average.
He also said that the gang unit's investigation of aggravated assaults with a firearm are down 15 percent from 2010 to 2011, and that since 2008, the gang unit has taken 644 guns off the street.
The gang unit has 15 officers.
Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan announces the arrests Thursday of three suspects in the fatal shootings at Best Buy last week. KT KING/Tulsa World