Rogers County sheriff responds to tiff with Tulsa police officer
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- A recent Facebook post by a Tulsa police officer has led to a dispute with the Rogers County sheriff.
Sheriff Scott Walton called a news conference Friday to respond to the dispute after a recording of him speaking to Officer Craig Heatherly was made public Thursday.
Heatherly took to Facebook after a traffic stop in which he tried to flag down a Rogers County deputy for assistance, but Walton says the deputy never saw Heatherly and didn't stop. In a later phone call to Heatherly, Walton called the officer's Facebook post and handling of the situation cowardly. Walton says he didn't know the call was being recorded.
Speaking Friday, Walton says he should've chosen his words more carefully but he was just defending his deputy. He also says had a Rogers County deputy posted a complaint against another department on Facebook, the deputy would've been suspended and disciplinary action would be taken.
Prior to Walton's news conference, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan weighed in on the matter, saying Walton's comments were inappropriate for an elected official, adding he would never speak to one of his own employees in such a way.
Jordan describes Officer Heatherly as a decorated Marine who is giving back to fellow veterans. The police chief says Heatherly has been "an exemplary officer" since joining the force.
Read Jordan's complete statement below.
In compliance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act, the Tulsa Police Department released this documented interaction due to several media requests.
Regarding the behavior of Sheriff Walton in dealing with a Facebook post, I will only say that I think his actions and comments were inappropriate for an elected official and agency head. I would never speak to one of my own employees in such a manner, much less someone else’s. The ultimate assessment of his comments will be made by the citizens of Rogers County.
As to Officer Heatherly, he is a decorated Marine who served in a combat capacity In Operation Enduring Freedom and was engaged in other operations around the globe. In 2015 he and his wife founded a non-profit called the Oklahoma Veteran’s Project for the purpose of “Restoring Veteran’s and their Families.” This program has held a Christmas program titled Santa’s Heroes since 2015 and has provided Christmas presents for than 600 children in its first two years.
Officer Heatherly is also in negotiations with the City of Muskogee to accept land on which he plans to construct a community of approximately 50 tiny homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. Construction of the first house begins in August and he expects to house a veteran in this house within 60 days of construction.
Heatherly has been an exemplary officer since he joined TPD. In other words, Craig has shown his bravery and dedication to his country and his community consistently. That is not the profile of a coward but exactly the opposite.