A day after five Dallas law enforcers were killed in a burst of brutal violence following a peaceful protest over recent officer-involved shootings across the nation, local leaders spoke out about the significance of those events in our own community.

Killed in Dallas were Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, and Michael Smith, according to the Washington Post. The shooter, identified as Michael Xavier Johnson, was killed by police during a standoff later Thursday.

Last year, Tulsa saw its own weeks of public protests following the killing of Eric Harris by Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy Robert Bates, yet none of the protests resulted in violence.

A vigil tonight will be held at Guthrie Green, and the Tulsa City Council has called for an emergency meeting to discuss the recent events in Dallas.

‘Guardians and protectors of our community’
In a message focused on calming fears, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the shootings in Dallas that killed five officers will not “damage the fabric of trust” the department has woven in the Tulsa community.

Jordan held a press conference Friday morning to address what happened in Dallas and alleviate locals’ fears about the possibility of similar incidents here.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said he received advice from the city attorney's office that officers could pay superiors to retire. DYLAN GOFORTH / The Frontier

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Tulsa police officers wore black mourning bands over their badges in honor of the Dallas officers who were killed Thursday night.

Jordan said the attack in Dallas was effective, but there was nothing to indicate that it was well planned. He called the shooters “psychotic thugs.”

“We are going to be, and continue to be, guardians and protectors of our community, all segments of our community,” Jordan said.

The department’s goal is to work with the community and build trust, Jordan said.

Jordan said the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots were one of the “worst racial events” in U.S. history, and he wasn’t going to let a similar event happen again.

“We’re going to redouble our efforts to make sure we have good relationships with our community and that we talk these things out,” he said.

Jordan said peaceful protesters will be protected by police and extra security precautions will be “to protect the people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Jordan praised We The People Oklahoma, a grassroots organization, for being professional without violence, and said they’ve been successful because of it.

Last year, the group gathered in front of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to protest then-Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz after the fatal shooting of Eric Harris.

Harris was killed during a botched gun sting in north Tulsa when Bates, who said he mistook his gun for his Taser, shot Harris under the right arm. While Bates was later convicted of second-degree manslaughter, it was Glanz who became the grassroots group’s main target.

The group collected thousands of signatures to empanel a grand jury to investigate Glanz, promising all the while that if the longtime sheriff would resign from office, they would halt their grand jury efforts. Glanz declined to step down, and the grand jury eventually indicted him on two misdemeanor charges.

Glanz immediately resigned from office and is awaiting a court date July 15.

‘Now we’re targeted’
Newly elected Sheriff Vic Regalado watched the “absolutely unnerving” attacks play out on the news Thursday night, and called some of his captains who were coming on duty to have them warn deputies to remain cautious.

“We’re unique in the fact that, because of manpower issues, our deputies respond to calls by themselves. We don’t have the luxury of having a constant backer with us, and when we do it can be quite a distance,” Regalado said. He said TCSO has less than 40 patrol deputies, meaning there are typically only 8-10 deputies available per shift to cover the 587 square miles of Tulsa County.

Vic Regalado speaks to the media after being sworn in as sheriff on Monday, April 11, 2016. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

“I’m scared for our people,” Regalado said of his deputies. “In particular, to be quite honest, our jail staff. They wear a uniform … and to the average citizen and average criminal, they wear a uniform that symbolizes law enforcement. Often times on the way home they stop at the store and they can — and ultimately one day they will — be targeted because of that uniform.”

Regalado said tensions have risen to the point where he has contemplated telling detention officers they can no longer wear their jail uniform outside of the jail.

“We’re under constant attack, whether it’s in the media, or social media, we tend to focus on the negative instead of what many of us in law enforcement know is that the majority of people support us, but they’re silent because they choose to be or they’re not given a voice,” he said.

He called the Dallas attacks “eye-opening,” and said that officers across the nation have become targets.

“You had several individuals that carried out attacks on police while the majority were peacefully protesting … Walking out the door in uniform you are a target. There’s a certain paranoia that goes along with being a cop and it’s justifiable. It’s not a mental illness, it’s a survival instinct that you need, especially today,” he said.

When Regalado was running for sheriff, he said he anticipated taking TCSO to a more community-oriented policing strategy. That meant more one-on-one time between deputies and Tulsa County residents, more of a presence on social media (something never done under former sheriff Stanley Glanz) and more back-and-forth with the community.

“It’s doubly important because again we don’t have the luxury of manpower … we cover a large area, a lot of it being rural,” he said. “The point of all that is we really are dependent on people in the community to keep us abreast of any issues, any dangers. We’d hope that because of that relationship that if one of our deputies got in trouble that we’d have community people who would step up and help out.”

Moving forward, Regalado said he wants to ensure his deputies that they will be safe while they keep the public safe, he said.

“If there’s a protest that my deputies are responsible for securing, we’re going to take counter measures and make sure that we do things to ensure our safety as well as the protestors safety,” he said. “They have changed the way that law enforcement will secure protests from this point on. Is it good for anybody? No? … It’s a sign of the times. This is an exclamation point on it, because now we’re targeted.”

‘Need to get rid of bad officers’
We The People Oklahoma has held more than 30 peaceful protests in Tulsa, said Marq Lewis, the group’s founder.

Lewis said the organization is grieving the shooting that took place following the protest in Dallas.

Marq Lewis speaks to the media on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, announcing that We The People Oklahoma has collected 6,000 signatures on its grand jury petition drive. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Marq Lewis. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

“Anytime, a protest can turn bad,” Lewis said. “It was peaceful. This guy decided to take advantage of the situation.”

Lewis said his organization doesn’t condone any type of violence, and its members “grieve for the loss of all lives.”

Though the fatal shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas have sparked a needed national debate, Lewis said it’s also important to acknowledge local problems.

Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and other city agencies need to increase transparency by putting all of their policies online, Lewis said. This would allow the community to know how to hold local officials accountable, he said.

Lewis said that the community also needs “good officers speaking out against bad officers.”

“We can’t have one bad apple spoiling the bunch,” he said. “We also need to get rid of bad officers that are creating such a big problem.

“If we don’t have good officers reaching out, they’re lumped into everything that’s public.”

‘A place to cry and heal’
Tulsa community leaders plan to hold a peaceful gathering tonight in wake of this week’s shootings.

“A Call For Peace, A Call For Love,” will begin at Guthrie Green at 7 p.m. Attendees will walk from Guthrie Green to the John Hope Reconciliation Park, where community leaders will talk about peace and lead prayer.

Jen Thomas, an event organizer, said the rally isn’t a protest, but an opportunity for people to pray and heal.

“In my restlessness, I could go the opposite way and be angry, hold a march or protest, but that doesn’t help anything,” Thomas said. “People need a place to cry and heal and have a plan for action of what to do next.”