TULSA, Okla. — Former Tulsa Police Chief Drew Diamond is reacting to body camera footage of two African-American teenagers being detained last week by Tulsa police.
The incident comes amid calls across the country for a change in policing. Tulsa community leaders pointed to this arrest as an example of why they are calling for change.
"We're looking at is this from the officers point of view, there are two teenagers walking down a, a street, which is actually a side street and abandoned street with no traffic and no sidewalks," said Diamond as he watched the video.
Diamond has been an outspoken advocate for community policing during his time with the department and afterward.
He was a Tulsa police officer for 22 years and served as chief for four years until he resigned in 1991.
Diamond said while some things have changed since he was chief, the reason behind becoming a law enforcement officer has not.
"The technology has changed and of course times change, things change, but the core values of policing are why one is a police officer in the state of Oklahoma. Those core values haven't changed. They get beat up sometimes and they get damaged sometimes, but they haven't changed. The oath of office is still the same. The responsibilities to protect and serve are still the same," Diamond said.
The body camera footage was released by TPD earlier this week and has caused some to question the tactics used.
"This was a pretext stop. It clearly, whatever else your officers say about why they wanted to stop these juveniles, and the pretext that they made for example in this stop is, since they can't get you on a turn signal or for tailgating, they use jaywalking. Well, the first thing you got to understand is that walking in the middle of a street where there's no sidewalks in the city ordinance is not jaywalking. It's actually allowed. And I know that there are no streets up there. There's no cars up there. There are no sidewalks. So, from a from an ordinance or legal standpoint that pretext stop is wrong. They're not jaywalking first thing and so, then the question becomes, they are clearly, they appear to be gang unit officers, whose job is to drive around in the community and look for people doing crimes and prevent crimes," Diamond said.
"If they have an interest in those two young men. There are probably half a dozen better ways to approach them in terms of if you want to find out who they are or where they're going or what they're doing," Diamond said.
He calls this type of stop a "reactive" police tactic.
"It is a difference between community policing and community problem solving and reactive kind of jump out policing. And what you see on that, on that tape. Regardless of what the officers were trying to do or what their intentions were, you're seeing, the outcome of that kind of policing in our community," Diamond said.
While Diamond thinks things could have been done differently, he also wants to hear the findings of the TPD internal investigation. He hopes that information comes out soon for both the community and the department's sake.
"So, it's important that both the police and the community that the department clears up why this occurred," Diamond said.
"You know, I spent a good part of my life on that police department. I care about it. The police department in the city has been good to myself and my family. I want police officers to be safe. I want the community to be safe, but the burden is on the police to manage their own behavior. They are highly educated. They're well trained, and they have found themselves in a situation that is going to take some courage inside the Tulsa Police Department to move out into the community so these things do not happen again," Diamond said.
The Tulsa Police Department is not releasing any additional information about the stop until the internal investigation is complete.
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