Wednesday was supposed to be a historic day in Tulsa.
The City Council was set to vote on Mayor G.T. Bynum’s proposal to create an Office of the Independent Monitor. But the vote didn’t happen.
Councilor Connie Dodson asked that council action be postponed to give her more time to examine the proposal and discuss it with her constituents.
The vote is now scheduled for Aug. 28.
Councilor Cass Fahler supported delaying the vote.
“I just wanted the opportunity to pause because this is just as important to me as the budget, just as important to me as Improve Our Tulsa, because we are creating a new government dynamic,” he said. “So I want the opportunity to pore over it, pore over it again, and then get some feedback from citizens and civic groups and other people I rely upon.”
Dodson will host a town hall meeting on the OIM proposal from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Martin Regional Library, 2106 S. Garnett Road.
The office would have three primary responsibilities: to follow up on citizen complaints about police and review Tulsa Police Department Internal Affairs’ investigations of use-of-force incidents; review best practices for police and make policy recommendations; and conduct community outreach.
Bynum proposed the OIM in January, saying it would provide a needed tool to help police officers establish trust with the community they serve.
City councilors will take public comments on the proposal before they vote on it Aug. 28. The meeting is at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, Second Street and Cincinnati Avenue.
Here’s how the program would work:
Who would select the independent monitor?
The mayor, from a group of candidates selected by a screening committee.
Who would be on the screening committee?
The six-person body would be led by the chairperson of the Citizen Oversight Board. Other screening committee members would include, but not be limited to, a city councilor, a current or retired judge, and a sworn peace officer employed by the Tulsa Police Department.
Would the independent monitor be a civil service employee?
What would the Citizens Oversight Board be?
The 11-member body would provide oversight of OIM and make recommendations to the mayor and police chief.
Who would select the Citizens Oversight Board?
The mayor would select one member from each City Council district and two at-large members. The members would have to be approved by the City Council.
What would be the responsibilities of the Citizens Oversight Board?
The purpose of the board would be to provide oversight of the OIM and make recommendations to the mayor and police chief.
The board would meet 10 times a year with a representative of the OIM, hold at least three town hall meetings, and meet with the police chief quarterly. All meetings would be open to the public.
The board would publish an annual report that summarizes its work, assesses the OIM’s performance, details residents’ concerns and makes recommendations.
Board members would serve three-year terms. Board members could not be employees of the city or relatives of Tulsa Police Department personnel.
Could the Citizens Oversight Board conduct investigations of police officers or use-of-force incidents or review police Internal Affairs reports?
Could the independent monitor or members of the staff be employees or former employees of the Tulsa Police Department or have relatives who are employees or former employees of TPD?
What use-of-force incidents would be reviewed by the OIM, and what would the OIM be checking for?
The OIM reviews would be intended to ensure that police Internal Affairs investigations are conducted properly and thoroughly.
The Internal Affairs investigations to be reviewed are: 1) any shooting or use of deadly force involving Tulsa Police Department sworn personnel, whether duty-related or not: 2) any in-custody death; 3) any duty-related incident during which, or as a result of which, anyone dies; 4) any use-of-force by a sworn officer resulting in a complaint to TPD by a person subject to use of force or their legal representative; 5) any incident where a sworn officer or a reserve officer, while on duty, is investigated for or charged with a felony; 6) any incident, whether by a sworn officer or a reserve, on duty or not, is charged with a misdemeanor or local law violation in which use of force or threatened use of force is a component of the alleged offense.
The OIM would also review any other internal investigations of possible misconduct by sworn officers when requested by the mayor.
How would the review process work?
The OIM would have 10 days to review Internal Affairs’ reviews of use-of-force incidents. If the review is not completed within 10 days, the Internal Affairs investigation would be considered to have been done properly.
The OIM’s review would be sent to the police chief.
Once the Internal Affairs investigation is completed, OIM would have access to all information and documents by IA to conduct its investigation.
Who would conduct the reviews of the Internal Affairs reports?
The independent monitor and staff are authorized to do them, but the independent monitor could choose to contract with an outside entity such as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Could the OIM impose or recommend discipline?
No. That remains under the purview of the Police Department.
Would OIM’s use-of-force reviews be public?
No. But the OIM’s annual report would include summaries of OIM use-of-force reviews and whether the Police Department acted on its findings.
What role would OIM have in community policing policies?
Mayor G.T. Bynum has stressed that the OIM would be about more than reviewing use of force. A key aspect of the office would be to assess the effectiveness of the city’s community policing program and recommend ways to improve it.
How much would the OIM program cost?
The city has estimated $500,000 a year.
Who would do the OIM’s outreach and policy work?
The OIM could hire staff or choose to contract with a university or other institution to handle policy work. Staff or a third party would handle community engagement.
Would the OIM issue reports?
Yes. The office would be required to submit a report to the city by Sept. 30 of each year. The reports would be made public.
What would the OIM reports include?
The reports would include a summary of each of the Internal Affairs investigation reviews, including an action — or lack of action — taken by the Police Department in response to the OIM reviews and other data.
Individual names would not be included in the reports unless the reviews involve incidents in which the person’s name has already been made public.
The OIM also would provide status reports that would include information on complaints.
The OIM could use the information it gathered to make policy recommendations to the mayor and police chief.