Thursday, June 11, 2020

Tulsa police major: We're shooting African Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Wednesday blasted one of his police department's top commanders after the officer denied there's systemic racism in law enforcement, then said African Americans "probably ought to be" shot more.

Tulsa Chief of Police Wendell Franklin, the first African American to hold that position, on Thursday also denounced the incendiary comments made by Major Travis Yates.

"Chief Wendell Franklin and the Tulsa Police Department want to make it very clear we do not endorse, condone or support Yates’ comments made on the show," a statement from the TPD said. "This matter has been referred to our Internal Affairs Unit."

Yates was on KFAQ on Monday, in a weekly segment called "Behind the Blue Line," when he said there's no institutional racism in policing.

“All the research said — including Roland Fryer, an African American Harvard professor, Heather MacDonald and the National Academy of Sciences — all of their research says we’re shooting African Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be based on the crimes being committed," Yates said.

Yates did not specifically cite which studies led him to this conclusion.

Mayor Bynum demanded an apology and said the department is investigating Yates. The mayor said of Yates' radio interview: "Speaking of dumb comments."

"He does not speak for my administration, for the Tulsa Police Department, or the City of Tulsa," Bynum said in a statement. "And if he didn’t mean to make the statement in the way it has been received, he owes Tulsans a clarification and an apology."

Lt. Marcus Harper, president of Tulsa’s Black Officers Coalition, said Yates’ comments send a chilling message throughout the department.

“He’s in a position of power in the police department," Harper said. "His attitude is going to go downhill to that young, brand-new officer or that officer in field training right now.”

Serving under Police Chief Franklin are three deputy chiefs, who preside over nine division commanders, who include Maj. Yates. Yates, who supervises the Records Division, would be represented by the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police if the department takes action against him, according to union chairman Jerad Lindsey.

"It's not currently in the FOP's purview," Lindsey said. "We have not been told of any discipline yet."


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