Tulsa takes a first step by quickly releasing the video of a local officer shooting a black man. But to avoid the protests in other cities, experts say the department will have to investigate thoroughly and communicate well.
Published Sept. 20, 2016
The actions of the Tulsa, Okla., police department following the shooting of a black man by a police officer on Friday so far suggest a grasp of the value of transparency in policing today, law enforcement and criminal justice analysts say.
But whether Tulsa will see a different result than other cities that have been the site of officer-involved shootings depends on at least two things, they note: 1) the transparency and speed of the investigations into Officer Betty Shelby’s actions before and during the shooting, and 2) how well local authorities continue to communicate with the public. If taken, they say, such steps would indicate that police leadership is learning from the lessons of violent interactions between police and the black community over the past few years.
“The first thing they’re going to have to do is a full, thorough, transparent, and objective investigation of that incident,” says Charles Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers (NABLEO) and a 45-year veteran of law enforcement.
“[And] no matter what the result of their investigation is,” he adds, “They need to have a lengthy and in-depth sit-down with the community to let them know, ‘This is how we police. This is what we do and why we do it.’ ”
Tulsa police said they were responding to a call Friday evening about an abandoned vehicle on a roadway north of the city. A woman had reportedly told a 911 operator that the man had said his vehicle might blow up.