POSTED ON APRIL 22, 2009:
Change for North Tulsa starts with change in leadership
The entire city of Tulsa received another black eye, in an ugly incident occurring a little over a month ago, in north Tulsa. Late on that Sunday evening, around 11:30pm, a Tulsa Fire Department crew responding to a home in the 4600 block of North Hartford Avenue, to help a citizen in medical distress, was, allegedly viciously attacked by bystanders at the scene. This isn't the first time this has happened in north Tulsa, Many residents hearing local media reports of this ugly incident, may think this is a very rare incident, but actually, the sickening smear of this type of activity, has surfaced before. In my former career of 29 years service with the Tulsa Fire Department, I have personal first hand knowledge of several incidents of "close calls," of violence against those sworn to help: in north Tulsa.
Fortunately for all Tulsans, an arrest has been made, and hopefully more arrests are forthcoming, as more individuals are involved in this latest ugly incident. An 18-year-old black male has been arrested in the case, and thanks to the efforts of Tulsa Fire Department officials, along with the Tulsa Police Department consulting with the Tulsa County District Attorney, the charges have been upgraded from a simple misdemeanor, to felony status. The teenage male allegedly punched a Tulsa Firefighter, before throwing him to the ground. Others at the scene, allegedly kicked the innocent, downed firefighter, thus preventing him from helping the innocent victim in medical distress. Police assistance was immediately called, but in a cowardly manner, the alleged assailants ran from the scene. The kicking of a downed person is reminiscent of the cowardly act of kicking a helpless dog.
As mentioned, I have witnessed acts like this before in north Tulsa. Personally, I never experienced in any other quadrant of the city, and in a career of public safety service spanning four decades, have worked in virtually every neighborhood in the city.
The Fire Department did their job, in responding quickly with highly skilled personnel and state of the art equipment, Tulsa taxpayers have generously provided to them. The verifiable arrival time of this crew that was attacked, was well below the national average of medical emergency response times by first responders (the Tulsa Fire Department is the designated first response agency for the city of Tulsa). The Police Department likewise did their job, with a quick response to protect the firefighters from further injury, as well as a very quick, and important arrest in the case. The Tulsa County District Attorney has done his job, upgrading the criminal charge of felonious assault on a firefighter, that is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
The only person absent from the equation, is, where is District one Councilor Jack Henderson? I've heard no comment from Councilor Henderson. No requests for the public to step forward with information for the police. No request for swift judgment of the accused, in a fair trial. No request for a judge or jury to impose the maximum penalty, as prescribed under law, in the advent of a conviction, beyond any reasonable doubt. No call for neighborhood action to rid itself of thugs roaming the streets. No call for longer prison terms of repeat offenders, victimizing the innocent neighbors of his council district, and clearly no call for increasing the jail capacity in Tulsa county to provide cells for those who choose to break the law, and engage in the violent criminal activity that has permeated every, formerly safe neighborhood in this city.
This isn't about race, or economic status, or age, or any other former issue. This is about, what a city should do about a problem with violent thugs, that is endangering innocent Tulsa citizens and about what real leadership is all about.
We've all heard Councilor Jack Henderson discuss Tulsa issues, many, many, many times before. One recent notable discussion came not too long ago, right after Mayor Kathy Taylor announced that she would be rehiring former Tulsa Chief of Police Ron Palmer back, for a second tour of duty, as Tulsa's Chief of Police. In that news conference held in the vacant parking lot of a closed, former north Tulsa grocery store, on August 29th, 2007, Councilor Henderson demanded that Mayor Kathy Taylor fire Chief Palmer, and resume the search for a new Police Chief. Councilor Henderson had walked out of the Mayor's news conference a few days before, and issued the statement that "I couldn't stand to hear any more bull", adding that Palmer during his first tenure as Chief of Police "had more problems with race relations and with black officers, than any Police Chief in this city".
We also have heard Councilor Jack Henderson publicly heap praise on former Tulsa Chief of Police Drew Diamond. Many of you may remember former Chief of Police Drew Diamond, as the leader who proudly announced that "Tulsa doesn't have any gangs". Remember that brilliant leadership? Of course, while gangs including the "bloods" and "crips" strengthened, and flourished in Tulsa, former Chief Diamond's gift to the city, was his "community based policing"
Tulsa's rank and file uniformed Police Officers are second to none, in the fine job they do of protecting all Tulsa citizens. Unfortunately, under some inadequate former top Police leadership long ago, as well as a former Tulsa Mayor who became too involved in trying to run the city's public safety departments, and interfered, instead of putting good people in place, allowing them to do their jobs, Tulsa declined in providing safety for it's citizens.
Recently, the investigative website "worst city.com, listed Tulsa at no. 82 on it's list of the 300 most dangerous cities in America. Tulsa's overall score on this site was a disappointing 84.93, with a most dangerous city on the list, no. 1 Detroit, having a score of 351.71, for it's stated population of 999,976, at the time of reporting.
In the recent 2008 FBI generated "City Crime Rankings of 385 largest American Cities", Tulsa came in as number #37, with a score of 151.21 (source CQ Press using data from FBA reports).
We've heard from District One Councilor Henderson about how his council district needs a major grocery store, as well, as many, many other issues regarding quality of life for it's residents, but Councilor Henderson seems to have been awol on important matters of public safety. I did however, see his commercials during his last re-election campaign, where he stated that he had gotten some more stop signs erected in north Tulsa. Stop signs and traffic safety are important issues, but it looks to me like nothing is more important than getting thugs locked up, and off the streets to where they cannot harm an innocent person again. Stop signs, or mandatory, long incarceration for multiple offenders. How about a "three strikes, and your out" law, where young people receive excellent counseling on the first offense, s stiffer payment to society on the second violent offense, and a possibly life sentence on their third strike against society?
Honorable Councilor Henderson, your silence is deafening.
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