During a meeting in July, the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training mulled over whether former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz committed a crime involving moral turpitude.
“It’s kind of a judgment call,” said Steve Emmons, executive director of CLEET. “The willful violation of the law. … Is that a crime of moral turpitude or not?”
CLEET council members briefly discussed Glanz’s peace officer certification. In 2015, Glanz was charged with two misdemeanor crimes: One for failure to disclose public records and another for taking a county-funded vehicle stipend while also driving a county vehicle.
When the charges against Glanz were released, the sheriff announced he was resigning. He later pleaded guilty to misusing the county vehicle and no contest to the records disclosure charge. Glanz is now serving a one-year suspended sentence.
“Your guess is as good as mine right now,” Emmons said of whether Glanz’s crimes involved moral turpitude, during the July meeting.
“So we’re going to try to look through what we’ve got and what we can find out, and see if there’s anything.”
Another council member called the decision to revoke Glanz’s certification a “close call.”
A decision wasn’t made on the certification because council members couldn’t determine whether the charges qualified as involving moral turpitude. Meeting minutes indicate the case was never revisited.
Oklahoma statute states the agency “shall revoke the certification of any person upon determining that such person has been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude or a domestic violence offense.”
Tulsa County Commissioners voted last year to recommend CLEET allow Glanz to be able to keep his peace officer certification after he resigned. The decision allowed Glanz to keep his gun, badge and other Sheriff’s Office equipment. It also gave him a special law-enforcement status.
The agency has yet to decide whether Glanz’s crimes involved moral turpitude. But if Glanz were to get a job involving peace officer certification, CLEET would revisit the case, Emmons said.
“We face this all the time and because it’s not definite, we have to make a judgment and have one other restriction: We can’t look at the details and charges and can’t look back at what happened in the case,” Emmons told The Frontier in a recent interview.
We the People Oklahoma collected more than 8,800 signatures seeking a grand jury investigation of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office during the Glanz administration. A decision on possible charges is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Attorney Laurie Phillips, who represents We the People Oklahoma, said Glanz’s crimes clearly involved moral turpitude.
“He had a trust in the public, and he freely admitted to stealing money,” Phillips said. “I don’t care if it was $10 or $10,000. He admitted to stealing the public’s money.”
Phillips said moral turpitude is dishonesty. She noted Glanz also kept information from the public.
Phillips also pointed to the legal definition of moral turpitude, which describes it as “conduct that is contrary to justice, honesty or morality.”
Emmons said when determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, the agency doesn’t consider the facts surrounding the case. Instead, it has to base its decision strictly on the definition of the crime, Emmons said.
“It limits us to how we can deal with it,” he said.
Moral turpitude can be difficult for the agency to define. Emmons said there are several definitions of what it is. What makes it more difficult is it’s not clearly defined in any state statute, he said.
In the past, Emmons, who has been CLEET’s director since 2011, said he has concluded contributing to the delinquency of a minor to be a crime of moral turpitude. Emmons is also a former Tulsa Police Department sergeant.
CLEET licenses and oversees training for all law enforcement officers and private security guards in the state. When an officer or security guard is arrested or convicted, the agency must look at the crime and consider whether it involved moral turpitude
When police officers are terminated or under investigation, police agencies are required to notify CLEET within 30 days. Then, CLEET might open an administrative investigation of its own.
Officers convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude or domestic violence can no longer do police work in Oklahoma.
CLEET also oversees more than 8,000 security guards in Oklahoma and is tasked with taking action against guards who commit crimes. However, an investigation by The Frontier in August found that didn’t always happen.
In some cases, the agency took months, or even years in some cases, to revoke the licenses of security guards accused and convicted of a wide variety of serious crimes. Guards with violent records were allowed to continue to work as armed enforcers.
A 2013 investigation by Oklahoma Watch found a dozen cases from 2003 to 2011 where law officers who pleaded guilty to, or were convicted of, a felony were allowed to keep their certification for years, and in some cases more than a decade.
“Virtually every time a law enforcement officer or security guard is arrested or convicted, we have to look at the crime, so we’re dealing with it on a regular basis,” Emmons said.