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Some Tulsa residents say 1st black police chief not enough

Published 01/24/2020 | Reading Time 1 min 16 sec 

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Some community leaders in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fear the appointment of the city’s first black police chief won’t alleviate the distrust of officers in communities of color.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum selected Maj. Wendell Franklin, 46, to succeed Chief Chuck Jordan, who is retiring Feb. 1.

“Out of the several excellent public servants, I have decided that Wendell Franklin is the best person to lead the Tulsa Police Department moving forward because he has a clear vision of the Tulsa Police Department, because he is an effective team builder with high standards, and because he knows personally the realities of community policing in all parts of our city,” Bynum said.

Some people say Franklin’s historic appointment is worthy of some celebration within Tulsa’s African American community. But others think having a black police chief is not enough.

Willie Sells, a barbershop owner, says Franklin’s new position is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a good historical moment for Tulsa,” Sells said. “I didn’t expect it.”

Thomas Boxley, chairman of the Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission, said it’s significant that Tulsa has a black chief. “But the institution of policing is what it is,” he added. “It remains to be seen what the impact is.”

Franklin joined the department in 1997. He was promoted to sergeant and later went on to become an administrative sergeant in the Special Investigations Division. As a captain, he worked overnight at the Gilcrease Division before being promoted to major.

Franklin said during a press conference that he is fearful of failing, but he knows he can’t because he is surrounded by great people.

Rev. Robert Turn of Vernon AME Church said the department needs some policy changes.

“Just like having a black president didn’t get rid of racism in America,” he said. “Position is one thing. … policy is another. We hope he implements the policies that are needed.”

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