Reserve deputies

This image, from an issue of “The Shield,” an interoffice Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office publication, boasts about the number of reserve deputies who work security at the Tulsa State Fair each year. Courtesy.

The training files of 91 out of 112 reserve deputies were deficient in some way, with many lacking required training for multiple years, a review by Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s office shows.

That finding seems to contradict claims by the office just this week that 50 reserve deputies were found to be deficient during a recent audit of the program.

Only one advanced reserve deputy — the highest classification in the program — was not deficient in his training, according to the audit released to the media Thursday. That deputy, John Haspell, joined the reserve program in 2012, records show.

Overall, eight reserve deputies missed the annual firearms qualification test on one or more years reviewed, 2008 through 2014. The Sheriff’s Office had no training file at all on two reserve deputies.

The Sheriff’s Office began the review of all training files following a fatal shooting by reserve deputy Robert Bates, 74, who shot and killed Eric Harris during a botched gun sting April 2.

The shooting of Harris, who was unarmed, kicked off a tumultuous summer for the Sheriff’s Office that included firings, forced resignations, a grand jury probe and a separate OSBI investigation.

Undersheriff Tim Albin was forced to resign earlier this year following the leak of a 2009 Internal Affairs document that showed he and other high-ranking members of the sheriff’s office gave Bates preferential treatment. Several of Bates’ supervisors had expressed concern that he lacked the required training despite serving as an advanced reserve deputy.

Advanced reserve deputies are required to receive more than 700 hours of training. Once completed, they must volunteer 48 hours of work to the department every six months, as well as other mandatory training all deputies must receive, such as mental health health training and firearm qualifications.

Once that training is completed, an advanced deputy is able to work in the field without supervision, make arrests and carry out other duties similar to deputies employed full-time.

Another advanced reserve listed in the audit as being deficient is Hastings Siegfried, vice president of the Nordam Board. Siegfried is listed as lacking “Reserve File Documents” and the required 48 hours of service.

Siegfried has told The Frontier he is mulling a run for sheriff next year.

Two other advanced reserve deputies listed as deficient, David Stone and Daniel Witham, were previously identified by The Frontier as drawing their weapons a combined 26 times since 2010, the most of any reserve deputies. Stone owns Dong’s Guns and Witham is chairman of the county’s Jail Sales Tax Overview Committee.

Both Stone and Witham told The Frontier they ranked highest in use of weapons because they each average several thousand hours of service each year.

Capt. Eric Kitch sent the reserve deputy audit to Undersheriff Rick Weigel on June 16 but the Sheriff’s Office did not publicly acknowledge the report until asked about its results by The Frontier earlier this month.

Glanz on Wednesday became the latest — and perhaps final — person to testify in front of a grand jury impaneled in July to investigate his office following the Harris shooting. A key question in the grand jury petition involves the qualifications of reserve deputies and whether the program allows wealthy supporters of the sheriff to “buy a badge.”

Records show Bates, who had a decades-long friendship with Glanz, donated cars and expensive equipment to the sheriff’s office while being allowed to serve on an undercover drug unit. Bates has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and is awaiting trial.

The advanced reserve deputy class was not the only one fraught with deficiencies. The results of the other classifications are similar.

  • Four out of five “limited basic” reserves (the lowest level) were listed as being deficient. The names of all five limited basic reserves are redacted without explanation. One basic reserve deputy did not receive required training in every year reviewed and missed firearms qualifications in three years.
  • Out of 55 “basic” reserve deputies, 39 were listed as deficient.
  • Out of 29 “intermediate” reserves, 25 were listed as deficient.

Some things are not immediately clear from the document. For instance, more than 30 reserve deputies are listed as both “current” and “deficient.” A handful of deputies who are listed in the audit, including Bates, are not named on an updated reserve deputy roster the sheriff’s office provided The Frontier earlier this month.

Another name not on the list is attorney Reuben Davis, who has represented the sheriff’s office in numerous lawsuits in past years. County Assessor Ken Yazel, listed as a basic reserve deputy, was also deficient due to missing “reserve file documentation.”

Green previously said that may be something as simple as missing a photo in the file. In 2005, Yazel, acting as a reserve, shot a suspect in Okmulgee County as an arrest warrant was being served.

He dropped out of the reserve program following the shooting but later rejoined.

It’s unclear why Reserve Deputy Coordinator Justin Green told The Frontier in August that only 50 reserve deputies were found to be deficient during the audit, instead of the 91 that the audit lists.

The sheriff’s office has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment. Green previously told the media that all but three of the reserve deputies— Jerry Biggs, Jason Crutchfield and Chris King— were able to correct their deficiencies by a Sept. 15 deadline.

How that was done is not clear.

A summary at the end of the audit states that 64 of the 112 reserve deputies who have files with the sheriff’s office have “missed training, mandatory (training,) mental health (training,) or both during one or more of the reviewed years, or missed the annual firearms qualification during one or more reviewed years, or are advanced classification reserve deputies that have not met the minimum mandatory service hour requirement and are not current or eligible to be at the listed classification level.”

“As a side note,” Kitch concludes in the audit, “many of the reserve deputy files are missing documentation that should be maintained for personnel, training, disciplinary, advancement, or related documents to the individual reserve deputy that should be maintained in their individual files.”

After Bates shot Harris, multiple sources reached out to reporters covering the story to say that Bates had not received all the training necessary to be an advanced reserve deputy. The sources also said supervisors were pressured to pass him through the program.

The sheriff’s office fought against those allegations, but a 2009 Internal Affairs document was leaked that backed up the claims.

In the audit released Thursday, Bates is listed as missing “Training 2009 FTO documents,” which corroborates what reporters were told about his prior training. Bates became a reserve deputy in 2008, according to a statement he gave to a sheriff’s office investigator following the Harris shooting, and worked as a reserve deputy until the day he shot Harris.

The Frontier first requested a copy of the reserve training file audit on Sept. 9, to which Green responded:  “I will not be able to provide you with a detailed list of who had what deficiencies the audit that determined those details was internal and not subject to the Open Records Act.”

The Frontier repeatedly requested a statutory reason for the denial, prompting General Counsel Meredith Baker to release a spreadsheet last week containing only reserves’ last names and little explanation of what the training deficiencies involved.

On Wednesday, Baker said in an email the full audit would be released Thursday.

“I was unaware that were was an audit report (or whatever phrase was used). That was why I sent the only item I had, which was the excel spreadsheet documenting the deficiencies.”