Updated: Police chief defends compliance checks at Councilor Blake Ewing's businesses
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 6:18 PM
Document: Read Police Chief Chuck Jordan's response
Police Chief Chuck Jordan on Monday defended his department’s handling of routine compliance checks on downtown restaurants Jan. 31 and challenged City Councilor Blake Ewing’s assertion that his businesses were specifically targeted.
“The checks on Jan. 31 were conducted without regard to business ownership as are all checks,” Jordan said in a statement. “Officers should never be required to consider who owns an establishment before deciding whether or not to perform compliance checks.”
Jordan said the compliance initiative began last October and that more than 200 checks were conducted citywide prior to Jan. 31.
“Checks have been done in nearly every part of the city, and they will continue to be done citywide,” Jordan said.
Ewing said last week that he thinks police targeted him during the checks, but he acknowledged that he had no hard evidence to support his claim.
“The issue I have is that they were harsh, aggressive and overstaffed -- not that they were writing me tickets,” Ewing said. “I felt like I was defending my staff and my guests that night. They were freaked out by this display.”
Jordan challenges that assertion as well, saying there are clear indications that police officers and an ABLE agent “remained professional and tolerant throughout the incident when confronted by harsh and aggressive behavior themselves.”
The police report from that night indicates that police and the ABLE agents went to nine downtown restaurants and bars -- Orpha’s, Max Retropub, Back Alley Blues and BBQ, Dilly Deli, Dust Bowl, Joe Momma’s, El Guapo’s, McNellie’s and Woody’s Corner Bar -- and the Red Rock Saloon at 1229 Charles Page Blvd. Woody’s, Orpha’s and Red Rock Saloon are the only ones not owned by either Ewing or another businessman, Elliot Nelson.
In a prepared statement issued Monday evening, Ewing said that immediately after the Jan. 31 compliance checks he reached out to Jordan to discuss the Police Department's compliance policies.
"Sadly, the actions of the department in the time since making that appointment have communicated a stronger desire to be vindicated than to improve the way in which they interface with local businesses," Ewing said.
"I'm hopeful this incident doesn't keep other local business owners from representing their concerns in defense of their businesses, reputations, employees and guests. Our small business community shouldn't ever fear retribution from law enforcement; rather, we should all be working together to create a community in which small businesses can thrive in accord with and under the protection of the law."
Ewing said he takes responsibility for not having had the proper stickers on his arcade games and that he has implemented a system to ensure that his restaurants remain in compliance.
"While it is tempting to continue to try to represent my side of this public dispute, I can't see how dragging this issue on is of any benefit to the community," Ewing said. "... That said, let's get back to the honorable work of helping our great city to achieve its incredible potential."
Jordan, Ewing and Nelson had scheduled a meeting for Thursday to discuss the Police Department's compliance enforcement policies. Ewing's statement does not mention whether that meeting is still on.
Read more in Tuesday's Tulsa World.
From left to right, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing. Tulsa World File