The loudest exchange Wednesday during the town hall on the next Tulsa police chief came when a speaker asked the mayor to commit to canceling the city’s contract to have the police force appear on “Live PD.”
Mayor G.T. Bynum firmly rejected the idea.
“No, I will not,” he said. “Because I think it is important for the people to see what our officers actually deal with out in the field.”
Several people shouted back at the mayor, with one saying, “Let them come to your house.”
The issue came up during the two-hour public meeting at Rudisill Regional Library on Wednesday night. Participants urged Bynum to select a police chief who will hold officers accountable when they do not respect minorities’ rights or treat them as they would other members of the community.
Then they pressed him to do more than listen to their concerns and to commit to including them throughout the selection process.
Bynum left the door open for such future involvement, saying he and his staff have been discussing how community stakeholders from around the city could be included in the second or third round of interviews.
One idea being considered, he said, is to have candidates be interviewed by a panel of stakeholders.
“I think it’s important to view how they interact with those diversity of viewpoints that are all being thrown at them,” Bynum said.
He did not, as some speakers suggested, commit to holding meetings at which the public could ask candidates questions.
“Am I going to put the responsibility for hiring this person to a town hall meeting?” Bynum said. “No, because the citizens of Tulsa hired me to have that responsibility, and I am not going to shirk that off on other people.”
Wednesday’s town hall meeting was the second of three planned to allow Tulsans to share with the mayor what they want to see in the next police chief.
Chief Chuck Jordan last month announced his retirement effective Feb. 1.
Seven internal candidates — Maj. Luther Breashears, Deputy Chief Jonathan Brooks, Deputy Chief Eric Dalgleish, Maj. Wendell Franklin, 911 Center Director Matthew Kirkland, Deputy Chief Dennis Larsen and Maj. Laurel Roberts — have applied.
Many of those gathered Wednesday were African-Americans, several of whom expressed frustration with the way they are treated by police officers.
“I hope you will look for a police chief that will work for equity,” said Damarria Monday.
To that — and to the other speakers who expressed similar concerns — Bynum reiterated that the next police chief must be dedicated to healing the racial divides in the city and must be able to ensure that the officers he has on patrol do the same.
“What is clearly obvious to me tonight — and it has been evident in all of the discussions that I have been a part of since I have been mayor — is that that is going to be the largest part of the chief’s job,” he said.
Bynum praised the field of candidates again Wednesday, saying he believes that an internal candidate with knowledge of the city and the Police Department would be best suited to move it forward.
That did not sit well with some of the 25 or so speakers.
The Rev. Robert Turner said he was one of approximately 40 north Tulsa ministers who met with Bynum earlier Wednesday to give their views on the next police chief.
“Not one of those preachers, not one, not one of those clergies who represent different faith communities, said that they wanted it to be limited to the seven (candidates) that we have,” Turner said.
The final town hall meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Learning Center, Room 145, 4502 E. 41st. St.