Was Blake Ewing simply a bar owner going to bat for his business and a better downtown? Or a city councilor trying to bully the Tulsa Police Department?
Tulsa Chief Chuck Jordan issued a statement Feb. 18 defending police procedures for compliance checks in bars and restaurants.
He responded to a Jan. 31 incident, when several TPD uniformed officers and ABLE Commission officers checked up around dinner time on restaurants and bars mainly in the Blue Dome District, including Ewing-owned businesses The MAX Retropub, Joe Momma's Pizza, and Back Alley Blues & BBQ.
KJRH posted audio of a portion of the encounter to YouTube after being given the recording by Ewing. (The recording was made a Ewing employee).
"I'm really not upset that you're enforcing the law. I'm upset at the way you're enforcing it," Ewing is heard to say.
He continued: "Here's what's going to happen. The next time someone in your department sits across the table from me at a City Council meeting and says we're short on police officers and that's why crime is what it is, I will recount this entire incident to the letter. Because it's ridiculous, man. Does that not make sense to you?"
An ABLE officer counters by asserting that police presence early in the night leads to fewer problems later on. A Tulsa officer then points out that such TPD enforcement has been relatively rare downtown.
Ewing stated, "I'm not your boss and I'm not pretending to be," adding, "I'm just begging I guess for a different approach to law enforcement down here." Citations were issued to Ewing-owned establishments related to a lack of registration of gaming machines.
In an email, Ewing, who opened Joe Momma's about eight years ago, wrote than the encounter differed from his past experience.
"We've had compliance checks before, but never anything like that. When ABLE comes in, it's either been in the afternoon so as not to disturb business, or late at night. ... It's especially odd at Joe Momma's and Back Alley, which are family restaurants serving dinner at that time. I've never even heard of that," Ewing wrote.
Ewing wrote that five TPD officers and four ABLE agents did the checks, but Jordan stated there were "never more than five law enforcement officers in the restaurant at any time."
Jordan continued: "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."
Send all comments and feedback regarding City to firstname.lastname@example.org
Share this article: