In a letter written January 9, 2020, to the Honorable Mayor G.T. Bynum:
Dear Mayor Bynum,
Over the past few months, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa embarked on a series of meetings to better understand the issue of racial bias in policing. We met with our membership, city leadership, and the community at-large. We also studied the Tulsa Equality Indicators, the Human Rights Watch report, and heard from a local citizen commission.
The result of these efforts was an understanding that, as the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing1 says, “[c]ommunity policing requires cooperation among police, citizens, and local decision-makers in order to forge effective partnerships that combat criminal activity.”
With Chief Jordan announcing his retirement, we believe selecting the Chief of the Tulsa Police Department will prove a most critical decision for Tulsa’s continued recognition as a city that warrants investment and continued growth.
As League members and citizens of Tulsa, we are pleased to see the city pursue an open process that includes community input. We hope you take citizens’ concerns and advisement under consideration during the selection process.
We agree with your stated position (as reported by the Tulsa World on Jan. 8, 2020), 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.”
With that in mind, we call for your approach throughout the process to:
- include broad-based and diverse community input
- reflect a respect for citizens in all areas of our city
- weight experience, implementation, and oversight of community policing policies
Police officers carry the responsibility to serve as guardians appointed to protect and uphold citizens’ rights – and that obligation starts at the top.
League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa
1President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 2015. Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Published 2015