Less than four weeks after embattled Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was charged with two misdemeanors, county commissioners are set to vote on his status as a “retired peace officer” Monday.
That vote, County Commissioner John Smaligo said Friday, is a routine matter for a retiring law enforcement officer. If approved, Glanz — charged Sept. 30 with willful violation of the law and refusal to perform official duty — would be able to keep his service weapon after his retirement.
“The sheriff’s office makes requests for any law enforcement officer to receive the peace officer retired status,” Smaligo said Friday. “They made the request and it went on the agenda.”
The status would not have any effect on Glanz’s retirement benefits or pension.
Still, Monday’s vote is happening too quickly for those who gathered signatures to empanel a grand jury that indicted Glanz.
“I don’t think he needs to retain peace officer status. He’s charged with two crimes and is leaving office. It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Marq Lewis, founder of the We The People Oklahoma.
Lewis and the grassroots group collected more than 6,000 signatures this summer to empanel the grand jury that eventually indicted Glanz. The investigation was sparked by the April 2 shooting of an unarmed man, Eric Harris, by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates during a gun sting.
Bates, 74, was a wealthy political supporter of the sheriff’s who was allowed to serve on an undercover drug task force despite not having the required training. He faces a second-degree manslaughter charge in Harris’ shooting death.
Lewis said he doesn’t understand why county officials are rushing to approve Glanz’s request. The sheriff has turned over operations of his office to Undersheriff Rick Weigel and plans to resign Nov. 1, according to his attorney.
“The county commissioners don’t need to do everything the sheriff’s office asks them to do,” Lewis said. “The sheriff’s office comes to you and immediately you vote on it? Just say ‘no.’ ”
The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training issues identification cards to eligible retired peace officers authorizing them to carry a concealed pistol in Oklahoma. CLEET then asks the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to conduct a criminal history records search on every officer granted that status every four years.
To be given that status, Glanz must provide a notarized statement showing he has not been forced into retirement “due to any mental disorder” and does not have a physical or mental health impairment that would make it unsafe for him to carry a concealed pistol.
CLEET also requires proof that the retiring officer “has not been convicted of and is currently not subject to any pending criminal prosecution for any felony offense, any drug related offense, aggravated assault and battery, or any offense involving impairment by drugs or alcohol.”
While the grand jury indicted Glanz on two misdemeanors, the sheriff’s office remains under ongoing OSBI and federal investigations, leaving open the possibility that Glanz could later face felony charges.
State statutes say a person who retires with peace officer status intact can be called on by the governor, the sheriff or mayor to “enforce the law, keep the peace, or to protect the public” in “times of great emergency or danger.”
“They (the BOCC) should let it play out,” Lewis said. “What are we rushing for? Let the investigations finish, let him go through the hearing (set for Nov. 10) maybe go through a trial. Let that play out before deciding on this.”
Smaligo said in response that all the BOCC has to go on are state statutes, which don’t “really speak to ongoing investigations.”
“It says the BOCC can do this, and it’s silent on anything going forward,” he said. “I can sit here and make guesses on what happened and what might or might not happen, but I don’t know.”
Smaligo noted that while Glanz is under investigation, he has not been charged with a felony that falls under the law’s exceptions for peace officer status.
“My guess is, if he was later charged with a felony, the court would make the decision to revoke it, or a court of law were to recommend that we would revoke it, and we would do it.”
According to state law, the OSBI would be responsible for removing that status from Glanz, should he eventually face a felony charge. However, that would all depend on timing.
The OSBI conducts background checks every four years on each retired officer who has maintained peace officer status.
If a discrepancy is found, the OSBI then conducts a hearing which could end with suspension or revocation of the retired peace officer status.
If a felony charge were filed against Glanz, it could take up to four years for him to lose the right to legally carry a concealed firearm.
When former TCSO Maj. Tom Huckeby was forced out of the sheriff’s office in May, he was allowed to retire with his peace officer status intact. County commissioners approved that status despite statements by Terry Simonson, a Glanz spokesman, saying Huckeby’s departure should be considered “a termination.”
Following the hearing over Huckeby’s status in May, Glanz told The Frontier that retiring with peace officer status “means that when you’re a retired officer, if you run into someone that you’ve had trouble with during your career, you’ll have a weapon on you that you can defend yourself with.”
Of the four high-ranking TCSO members who were forced out, resigned or fired in the wake of the reserve deputy scandal, Albin and Huckeby retained their peace officer status.
A search of this year’s county commission agenda and minutes provided no record of such requests for Shannon Clark, who was fired in May, or Bill McKelvey, who resigned from TCSO on Aug. 31.