The city of Tulsa has selected a firm to evaluate its community policing efforts as well as develop steps to advance and measure performance, it announced Monday.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a news release that CNA Corp., a nationally accredited 21st century policing firm, will contract with the city to begin work in the fall.
Bynum said CNA’s work will build off the 77 recommendations made by the Tulsa Commission on Community Policing in March 2017. The work also will fill one of the voids created when the mayor’s proposal for an Office of the Independent Monitor failed; it would have entailed the OIM issuing TPD policy analysis and recommendations for community policing.
The city is mandating that CNA use a community-based participatory action research model to engage community members and organizations as co-researchers who have “personalized knowledge of the needs, concerns and strategies” that affect them.
“One of the values we’ve instilled at the City of Tulsa is continuous improvement,” Bynum said in a written statement. “We recognize the need to both evaluate our progress as it relates to community policing and also to involve citizens and officers in developing the plan that will guide our strategies over the next several years. I am excited for us to begin that collaborative process.”
The failed OIM proposal focused on oversight, community outreach and policy.
The news release states that Bynum intends to use a portion of the funding carved out for the OIM to underwrite the community policing study.
The city budgeted $246,000 for the OIM, and the study’s request for proposals states that the project’s budget is “around $100,000, but that is not firm.” Michelle Brooks, a city spokeswoman, said the contract with CNA isn’t final yet but should be within the next 30 days.
Virginia-based CNA leads and guides numerous agencies in implementing 21st century policing best practices, with community engagement experience shown by their work in Chicago; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and other cities, according to the city’s news release.
The request for proposals calls for CNA to provide:
• An evaluation report on community policing within the Tulsa Police Department, which includes but isn’t limited to the 77 original recommendations, a community resource officer model, and community advisory and action groups.
• Performance metrics for community policing that are measurable using quantitative and qualitative data.
• A recommendation that defines successful community policing, drivers of effective community policing, strategies to equip communities and police to collaboratively solve challenges, and best practices that have evidence of effectiveness in other cities.
• An action plan that establishes geographically specific goals and time frames for city, police and community members and advisory groups to improve performance within the next two years.
The city’s request for proposals sets Dec. 31 as the deadline to deliver products, reports and plans. The RFP states that work was to begin about July, and it’s unclear how the fall start might affect the deadline.
Dec. 31 originally was chosen so that recommendations could be reviewed during the city’s budget process for potential implementation during fiscal year 2021. “A final timeline will be spelled out in the contract when it’s executed,” Brooks said. “I’m sure there will be some delays due to COVID-19.”
The city’s news release states that it did a thorough scoring and interview process before selecting CNA because of its “extensive experience engaging residents and law enforcement to implement 21st century policing best practices.” The process was conducted by a group of community leaders and city staff.
CNA beat out three others: 21 CP Solutions LLC, Consumer Logic Inc. and Urban Strategies Inc.
The Tulsa Commission on Community Policing’s 77 recommendations were guided by the 116-page President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing developed under President Barack Obama’s administration.
The six pillars of the reports are building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer wellness and safety.
The city is tracking each recommendation’s implementation via a dashboard on the city’s website. The dashboard indicates that the only recommendations remaining to implement are a community policing evaluation and extended in-service training hours for officers, the latter of which is because of staffing shortages.
Gallery: Digging continues Monday for Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves at Oaklawn Cemetery
The National Junior Angus Show runs through Sunday at Expo Square. Since its inception in 1969, the National Junior Angus Show has grown to be the largest event of its kind throughout the nation, organizers said. Each year, junior Angus exhibitors travel from all corners of the country to gather for a week of competition and fellowship.In addition to exhibiting their animals, youths also grow through participating in contests, attending educational clinics and building a network of friends from around the nation. For more information, go to njas.info.
TAHLEQUAH — Concerned about a recently announced agreement-in-principle among five tribes and the state of Oklahoma, about 50 tribal citizens protested outside a Cherokee Nation Tribal Council committee hearing Monday afternoon.
Released by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office on Thursday afternoon, the agreement in principle is not legally binding but would lay the foundation for proposed federal legislation to address the jurisdictional questions involving the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations raised by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
At least for criminal prosecution purposes, the 5-4 opinion reinstated the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation across 11 eastern Oklahoma counties. Although the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole nations were not explicitly mentioned in the decision, they signed similar treaties in the 1800s and were subject to similar congressional actions before Oklahoma became a state.
Among the specific objections raised Monday afternoon was that the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, and by extension, tribal citizens, were not consulted prior to Thursday’s announcement.
“We need to talk about it and see this before we even go into an agreement in principle,” Cherokee Nation citizen Charli Barnoskie said. “Our voices need to be heard. There are so many things that we can do with the state without a binding agreement or legislation.”
When asked during Monday afternoon’s Rules Committee hearing about the lack of prior notification to the council, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill said the people involved in drafting the framework were bound by a nondisclosure agreement while both McGirt v. Oklahoma and a related case, Sharp v. Murphy, were pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The only way these conversations could have happened was under a strict nondisclosure agreement,” she said. “There was no way to have these conversations before the McGirt ruling. They (the other parties) would not have engaged in those discussions if I was regularly reporting out to a public body.”
Leaders with the Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations announced Friday that their respective tribes were not on board with the proposed agreement due to their concern that it had ceded tribal sovereignty to the state, a concern also shared by some of the protesters Monday.
“If you ask Cherokees at large and across the counties, we wouldn’t have agreed with it (the agreement),” Cherokee Nation citizen Ashley Dawn Anderson said. “It’s like you’re giving away your political bargaining chip to work with the state when they never work with us.”
During Monday’s Rules Committee meeting, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. pushed back on claims that he gave away the tribe’s sovereignty with the agreement and said the tribe would continue to work with the other four tribes, as well as state and federal officials, on how to address jurisdictional questions raised by the McGirt ruling.
“We know from our history that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” Hoskin said. “The Cherokee Nation is not going to be on the menu as long as I am chief.”
Due to COVID-19, seating inside the council chambers was limited to tribal officials and a handful of staff members. Tents, a large fan, folding chairs and coolers of water were set up outside the building for the largely masked protesters, along with a large flat-screen television and sound system to carry the meeting’s live webcast.
Featured gallery: Digging continues Monday for Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves at Oaklawn Cemetery
Video footage showing the shootings last month of two Tulsa police officers, including a sergeant who later died from his injuries, will remain out of public view at least until a preliminary hearing in September.
But a prosecutor acknowledged Monday that a police affidavit used in the case misrepresented some of the actions of the accused shooter, David Ware, by wrongly stating that Ware fired three shots at Sgt. Craig Johnson while standing over Johnson as he was already wounded on the ground.
“They’re trying to paint this narrative of a cold, calculated killer, OK?” defense attorney Kevin Adams said of the June 30 death of Johnson and shooting of him and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan the day before.
Adams also questioned why the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, which used the affidavit as its basis for filing initial charges against Ware on June 29, did not take meaningful steps before Monday to clarify the sequence of events.
Court documents filed Monday indicate that Homicide Unit Lt. Brandon Watkins wrote a supplemental report indicating that the statement, which he described as “likely a conflation and poor understanding” of what happened, came from a crime scene detective.
Watkins had asked for a detective at the scene to watch Zarkeshan’s patrol car dash camera video and summarize it, aiding police as they prepared paperwork to obtain an arrest warrant for Ware.
Although Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray acknowledged the inaccuracy in a written response on Monday, he said that “counsel for (Ware) is properly equipped to respond to that inaccuracy” without publicly releasing the video because his office has made Watkins’ supplemental report available to the defense.
A paragraph of that report, which Gray included in his response, states: “We observed the suspect take a two-handed grip and aimed and shot Sgt. Johnson in the head one time.” The excerpt states Watkins’ view that “the act was deliberate” and says one officer described it as “execution-style.”
“I have no doubt in my mind that David Ware, at the time that he shot these two officers, was in fear for his life,” Adams later told reporters out of court. “But (the video) will put this whole thing in context. Nothing looks right when you take it out of context. And I’m not saying that legally (Ware’s) justified, but it’s the question of intent.”
Special Judge David Guten ruled July 6 that the police videos should not be released publicly for at least six months after Gray and defense attorney Brian Martin, who represents Ware’s co-defendant, Matthew Hall, argued that it could affect the state’s and Hall’s abilities to have a fair jury trial.
Martin reasserted that position on Monday and said his client does not at this point have any agreement in place with the state to testify in a Sept. 2 preliminary hearing. Hall is charged with being an accessory to murder and an accessory to shooting with intent to kill.
Ware did not have a court-appointed attorney until District Judge William Musseman appointed Adams last week.
In addition to the murder and shooting counts, Ware — who could face the death penalty — is accused of having a gun after being convicted of a felony and of having drugs in his vehicle, which had an expired tag.
Guten said Thursday that he had not watched the videos of the altercation before ruling that they should not be released yet and didn’t think he needed to do so. Though he upheld his original stance Monday afternoon, he still did not appear to have watched the videos.
“A lot of what goes on in this video is terrible in a lot of ways,” Gray said Monday, asking Guten to consider the “interest in common decency and compassion” in keeping it out of the news.
An attorney with the city of Tulsa agreed, saying the Police Department is still in the process of discussing the contents of the footage with its own officers and that some of those who helped treat Johnson and Zarkeshan just returned to work this week.
But Adams said the footage should be made public quickly because the Tulsa Police Department, by writing in a public document that Ware stood over Johnson and fired at him three additional times, disseminated an inaccurate and damaging narrative. He said District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler appeared at a news conference June 29 with Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin and was present when Franklin told the audience Ware “slowly” walked away from the shooting site.
“He was begging them: “Please stop. Please stop. Help me. Why are you guys doing this to me?” Adams said of Ware’s statements on the video, adding that Ware is clearly emotional after the shooting takes place and while fleeing. He also alleged that the videos show Johnson kicked Ware “like he was kicking in a door” while attempting to get Ware out of his vehicle so it could be towed.
Kunzweiler equated Adams’ commentary to reporters to his having his “Access Hollywood” moment rather than arguing before a court.
“This case is going to be tried in a courtroom,” he said. “And what the public is going to hear is going to be under the process that’s served this country well for over 200 years — a judge who listens to argument and makes decisions based upon the admissibility of evidence, not somebody who’s going to pander to a crowd or somebody who’s going to say, ‘This is what I think the evidence is,’ and, ‘I wonder why they did this,’ and, ‘I wonder why they did that.’”
Featured gallery: Memorial service for Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson
Tulsa’s eviction crisis will be the topic of the next Tulsa World Let’s Talk virtual town hall.
Eric Hallett, an attorney and coordinator of housing advocacy for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, and the Rev. Jeff Jaynes, executive director of Restore Hope Ministries, will be guests on the program, which will be posted on the Tulsa World Facebook page Wednesday morning.
The discussion will be moderated by Wayne Greene, editor of the Tulsa World’s editorial pages.
Questions for the event can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Tulsa World’s Let’s Talk virtual town halls are sponsored by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.