Tulsa County commissioner call for probe of sheriff's office

AP News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2015 8:54 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — All three Tulsa County commissioners say they support an outside investigation of Sheriff Stanley Glanz's office amid allegations that high-ranking officers knew a volunteer deputy and close friend of Glanz was inadequately trained before he shot and killed an unarmed man during a sting operation this month.

The three-member elected commission has the authority to recommend legal action against Glanz, the county's longtime sheriff, but all three members said they wanted an independent review of the sheriff's department before deciding how to proceed.

"He's been here for 25 years and has done a really good job of modernizing the office so I would want to wait," Commissioner Ron Peters told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "That's not to say I don't have concerns, I have some deep concerns. I think right now a good review is needed."

The news from the commissioners came as state legislators and sheriffs from across the state said they plan to push for tougher requirements for those who want to be volunteer law enforcement officers.

Robert Bates, a friend of Glanz who has donated tens of thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the April 2 shooting of Eric Harris. The 73-year-old volunteer deputy says he meant to draw his stun gun rather than his handgun.

Attorneys for Harris' family have repeatedly called on Glanz to resign, but so far only Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin has stepped down. According to a 2009 internal investigation, Albin had been aware that Bates was inadequately trained but pressured officers to look the other way.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has called for an independent investigation into Glanz's office, but has refused to say which agencies he has contacted.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said an outside investigation is needed at the agency "for the integrity of the office."

"We absolutely have to get to the bottom of everything," Keith said Wednesday.

Commissioner John Smaligo also voiced support for an independent probe.

A proposed bill by Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, would increase from 240 to 300 hours the amount of training a reserve officer must receive. Volunteer officers would also be required to obtain at least 12 hours of continuing education annually. None are required now. Both requirements are about half of what is required of full time officers.

Shortey's proposal has been endorsed by the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association and the head of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, the state agency that oversees training for law enforcement officers across the state.

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Associated Press reporters Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Allen Reed in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.