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'A time for everything' | Tulsa police chief announces retirement

Wendell Franklin
Posted at 2:38 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 13:50:21-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Police Department announced Police Chief Wendell Franklin is retiring from the department on July 31.

Franklin became chief Feb. 1, 2020. He's the 40th chief for the department and served the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest.

He is the first Black police chief in Tulsa.

The chief called it an "infinite game" and cites the 24/7 pressure as the reason for his retirement.

With those constant operations in mind, folks are already wondering who will next take the role.

Franklin tells 2 News he hopes the hire will be made internally. He believes internal training, and example leadership have prepared someone for the job.

He did offer some perspective to the next chief.

"It’s not a job that you can just apply for and think it’s just any other role. It’s not," Franklin said.  

WATCH: Chief Franklin held a press conference to talk about his retirement:

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin holds press conference on retirement

Franklin sent this statement to the department:

Before I began my new role as the police chief in 2020, I created a plan. I carefully designed the plan around the dangers facing our profession and department. I carefully released the plan to our staff, and they worked hard to implement it. The Mayor and his closest confidants were aware and supportive of the plan. After three years, I reviewed the plan with command staff. I heard some say they had no idea we had accomplished so much. By the end of 2023, we had achieved everything in the plan. So, I began pondering the next move.

I reflected on the past four years. Could there be a more tumultuous four years in our history? The deaths of Will Hays, Gary Szabo, and dispatchers Mary Byers and Joey Phillips were brutal.

The memories of Craig Johnson, Jared Lindsey, Sarah Spradlin, and Cleon Burrell deeply scar my heart. They are etched in my memory because I delivered remarks at their service. Giving eulogies never crossed my mind when the Mayor appointed me as the Chief. At 21, I could not gain the courage to speak at my father's service. At 33, I sat in the pew at my mother's funeral, never speaking. I couldn't do it for my own family because I felt alone. For the TPD family, however, it was different. You all gave me the courage and strength to rise and speak at those services and I am forever grateful for your support in those hardest of times.

Many of you have been my pillars of strength, carrying me when I couldn't walk and stepping up to cover for me when I needed rest. Your support, often unbeknownst to you, has been instrumental in my journey. I am deeply grateful to each one of you for believing in me, an introverted kid from North Tulsa who always held the police in high regard. Your unwavering support and acceptance, irrespective of my skin color, have been a constant source of inspiration. Thank you.

Your professionalism and competence has made my decision to retire both difficult and easy. Difficult, because I am leaving behind a team that has been a great blessing. Easy, because I am confident the future of TPD is in capable hands. I have been the face of Tulsa Police for over four years, and a part of this department for more than 27 years. It is only the second job of my life and the biggest, most rewarding one.

But as the saying goes, there is a time for everything. July 31st will be my final day working for this esteemed department. It is time for me to step back and watch the next generation of leaders carry TPD forward with even greater success.

Many challenges remain, but we have always exceeded expectations in challenging circumstances. The road ahead may not be easy, but I completely believe in your abilities to overcome all challenges. There's so much more I want to say, but less is always better.

Best of luck to you all! Remember, the work we do is important and impactful. Keep pushing forward, and I do not doubt that you will continue to make a difference in our community.



Tulsa police released this statement to the public:

Wendell Franklin.jpg

Mayor Bynum said he is grateful for Franklin's service.

“I am profoundly grateful for Wendell Franklin’s service as Tulsa Chief of Police. Chief Franklin led the Tulsa Police Department through some of the most challenging times in our city’s history, and he leaves the Department better than he found it. I wish him nothing but the best in this next phase of his career.”

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