The most recent Oklahoma Poll suggests that a long-running corruption investigation has caused little if any damage to the Tulsa Police Department’s reputation with the public.
Seventy percent of the 508 Tulsans surveyed said they were satisfied that Tulsa police are “honest, ethical and professional in carrying out their duties,” regardless of charges that brought convictions, admissions of wrongdoing or guilty pleas from five TPD officers and one federal agent.
“Whatever organization you’re dealing with, there are always going to be one or two not on the up-and-up. The majority of the police, for the most part, I have nothing but respect for,” said Mary Bell, who was among the 35 percent who said they were “very satisfied” with the department’s integrity.
“I have a lot of friends on the police department,” said Bobby Nelson. “I trust them, pretty much. Some of the police, well, you’ve got a bad apple in every barrel.”
A federal investigation recently resulted in five current or former Tulsa police officers pleading guilty, being convicted or admitting to criminal behavior. In addition, more than 40 people have been freed from prison or had their felony cases dismissed or modified, and seven lawsuits have been filed against the city of Tulsa as a result of the investigation.
Fewer than one in five of those surveyed said they had seen a Tulsa police officer “behaving inappropriately,” and most said steps taken in the wake of the scandals were sufficient to “restore public confidence” in the department.
Gwendolyn Steen said revelations from the investigation have “tarnished” the department but haven’t changed her opinion of the Tulsa police as “trustworthy people.”
Their “previous commitment” and “previous actions,” Steen said, weigh more heavily than the recent difficulties.