TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa Police Department says all rules and regulations were followed during recent compliance checks at several downtown bars and restaurants.
Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing owns several of the restaurants hit with liquor and entertainment violations.
Ewing took to the media to complain that his businesses were being targeted.
TPD Chief Chuck Jordan says that's not true.
Jordan released a statement Monday afternoon clarifying what did and did not happen when TPD joined the ABLE Commission for the compliance checks in question.
- This compliance initiative began in October of 2012 and checks have been made at over 200 bars and restaurants citywide prior to the compliance checks in the downtown area. Usually 9 establishments were checked per shift. These checks were a joint effort conducted by ABLE and TPD. All checks were reported and documented.
- The checks on January 31st were conducted without regard to business ownership as are all checks. Officers should never be required to consider who owns an establishment before deciding whether or not to perform compliance checks.
- There were not 10 Tulsa Police Officers involved in the check of JoMammas (sic) as has been alleged. There were never more than 5 law enforcement officers in the restaurant at any time. That includes 4 TPD officers and 1 ABLE agent. There were originally four (3 TPD and 1 ABLE) in the restaurant and a TPD Sergeant was called to answer a question.
- All clubs in the geographical area defined by ABLE and TPD that were open were checked that night. Those included Woody’s Corner Bar, Orpha’s, and Red Rock Saloon which are not in the Blue Dome District.
- The assertion that only the Blue Dome District or certain businesses are a sole target for compliance is not true. Checks have been done in nearly every part of the city and they will continue to be done citywide.
- The notion that Emails were written to pre-empt the police looking bad is false. When a police officer in the performance of his/her duty is confronted by a sitting city councilor and they have words, I would expect documentation and notification through their chain of command. There may have been a bad judgment call made that evening, but it was not made by my police officers.
- To say that officers “leaked” emails is unsubstantiated and untrue. When such an event occurs, there is a buzz and discussion throughout the city and the police department cannot control nor did they initiate open records requests for emails by the media.
- There is no indication in reports or recordings that officers were harsh or aggressive at any time. There are clear indications that they remained professional and tolerant throughout the incident when confronted by harsh and aggressive behavior themselves.
- There has been information disseminated that all of the citations issued for non-permitted amusement devices were not valid and will be dismissed. That is not true; all citations written that night are still valid and pending in the City Prosecutor’s Office. City permits for every machine cited have now been purchased by the businesses and issued by the City.
Jordan emphasizes that TPD wants all entertainment venues in the city to be successful and flourish.
KRMG reached out to Ewing for comment. He emailed us a statement just before 6 P.M. It says:
Immediately following the incident, I reached out to Chief Jordan to discuss the manner in which these compliance checks are conducted, which was the issue I raised that evening. Sadly, the actions of the department in the time since making that appointment have communicated a stronger desire to be vindicated than to improve the way in which they interface with local businesses.
I'm hopeful this incident doesn't keep other local business owners from representing their concerns in defense of their businesses, reputations, employees and guests. Our small business community shouldn't ever fear retribution from law enforcement, rather, we should all be working together to create a community in which small businesses can thrive in accord with and under the protection of the law.I have taken responsibility for my failure to procure the appropriate stickers for our arcade games, purchased new stickers and created a system to ensure that oversight never happens again. I take responsibility for my actions and have done that consistently throughout this process.
While it is tempting to continue to try to represent my side of this public dispute, I can't see how dragging this issue on is of any benefit to the community.
Moving forward, if anyone has concerns with the manner in which I've handled this situation and wishes to discuss this with me personally, please call me at 918.991.8252 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm glad to be available and transparent.That said, let's get back to the honorable work of helping our great city to achieve its incredible potential.