An internal audit found that 50 of the more than 100 reserve deputies who volunteer for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office had deficient records, officials said.
Reserve Deputy Coordinator Justin Green, who also acts as the public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said the deficiencies ranged from missing copies of updated driver’s licenses or photos to missing copies of training certificates.
The reserve deputy wing of the sheriff’s office, a group of about 125 volunteers who are supposed to go through hundreds of hours of training then serve in various capacities for TCSO, came under public scrutiny following the April 2 shooting of Eric Harris.
Harris, 44, was shot and killed by reserve deputy Robert Bates while TCSO deputies were conducting an undercover sting. Harris fled from arrest, but was quickly tackled by other deputies.
Bates, 74, a wealthy donor to the sheriff’s office and personal friend of Sheriff Stanley Glanz, fatally shot Harris. Bates said he intended to stun Harris with a Taser, but accidentally drew his handgun.
Weeks later, a 2009 internal sheriff’s office memo was leaked showing there had been numerous concerns regarding Bates’ lack of training over the years. Various supervisors alleged that Bates, who later would serve as Glanz’s re-election campaign chairman, was allowed to act as an “advanced reserve” despite not having completed the necessary training.
A little more than a week after that document was leaked, the reserve program was shelved, and an internal audit of all reserve deputy paperwork began, Green said.
Green said he would not specify which reserve deputies were found to be deficient or provide a list of the specific deficiencies. Green said those findings were from an internal audit and do not fall under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
However, the Oklahoma Open Records Act does not appear to grant the ability for public agencies to withhold the results of internal audits.
Sheriff’s officials have not yet responded to requests by The Frontier to cite the specific statute they’re using to deny the records request.
Green said he could not yet provide a list of how many reserve deputies corrected their deficient files, because the reserves were given until Sept. 15 to update their paperwork.
The reserves are currently going through “reality-based training,” which consists of having each deputy face different scenarios in front of an interactive video screen, such as a hostage situation or an armed standoff.
Glanz previously described the training as: “You have to make a decision on when to pull your gun, or are you going to use your Taser,” he said. “And when you make a decision one way or the other, and you change your mind, how do you transition? We’ll get people used to thinking that way.”
Green originally said the training was expected to be completed by next week. That timeline was based on TCSO’s desire to have the reserve deputy program up and running in time to provide security at the Tulsa State Fair, which begins Oct. 1 at Expo Square.
However, Terry Simonson, TCSO Director of Governmental Affairs, said Thursday morning the reserve program would not be operating again in time for the fair’s opening.
“TCSO will add certified deputies to provide the needed coverage, particularly on the weekends of the fair,” Simonson said in an email.
The sheriff’s office is awaiting the results of an outside audit by Community Safety Institute, a Texas-based company that was selected in June by Tulsa County Commissioners. Simonson said CSI “suggested we wait to re-activate until they are finished and can present their findings and recommendations.”
Officials have said the report could take as long as five months, but Simonson indicated that it might be finished sometime in September.