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Community leaders ask for more than meetings in search for Tulsa police chief

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 21:39:50-05

TULSA, Okla. — Mayor G.T. Bynum will give Tulsans the opportunity to have their voices heard on what matters to them in a new police chief. However, some community leaders want to take the process a step further.

The mayor will host three town halls for Tulsans to give their input. Those town halls will be at Hardesty Library on Tuesday, Jan. 7, Rudisill Library on Wednesday, Jan. 8, and OU-Tulsa on Thursday, Jan. 9, all starting at 6 p.m.

The mayor has invited anyone who can come to share their thoughts, and ask questions, as he embarks on a decision he has called one of the most important of his career.

In early December, State Representative from Tulsa Regina Goodwin and Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper submitted a letter to the mayor asking for community input on the selection of Tulsa's next chief. These town halls were in response to that letter, but the two would also like to see representation from the community in the decision-making itself.

They say meetings are great to have everyone's voice heard, but they also want to create a team made up of leaders in the community to consult with the mayor throughout the process.

"We're looking for a brave chief, we're looking for a chief that's going to come in and hit the ground running, who understands this is a prime opportunity to move us forward, and the time is now. It's past time," Goodwin said. "We need to be engaged because we have been talking about this for a very long time, and we have a chance now to get it right and to do better."

Goodwin says she hasn't heard anything definite from the mayor's office on the matter.

Community leaders in Tulsa would also like to see town halls held with the finalists for the position, where the people in their communities can talk directly to their future chief.

"What they feel is one of the most important things is a police chief that will hold his or her police officers accountable," said Reverend Robert Turner.

Turner is the pastor at Vernon AME Church. He wants to make sure those concerns get to the mayor's ear, and are part of the final decision, especially with the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial now just one year away.

"We as a city cannot mess that up, as far as the symbolism and practically what we need to see as improvement from 1921 to 2021," Turner said. "Whoever the final three candidates are, my hope and prayer is the community will have an opportunity to speak with them."

2 Works for You has also reached out to the mayor's office about a consultation panel, and is awaiting a reply.

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