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Appointment of Tulsa's first black police chief draws support and anger from community


Maj. Wendell Franklin is seen during a public forum Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, with other candidates to replace retiring Tulsa, Okla., police chief Chuck Jordan. (KTUL photo)
Maj. Wendell Franklin is seen during a public forum Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, with other candidates to replace retiring Tulsa, Okla., police chief Chuck Jordan. (KTUL photo)
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History will be made in Tulsa as Major Wendell Franklin becomes the city's first black police chief, at a time when the department is under scrutiny for the difference between how white and black Tulsans are treated by officers.

"I know that I have a great team of people around me, that's going to help me, that's going to assist," said Major Franklin.

But the landmark decision by Mayor Bynum is being criticized by members of the Greenwood community, who felt left out of the decision.

"Now I guess you just want to put a black police chief as if he's Bass Reeves, to say hey, we've changed. We have not changed, this is lipstick on a pig. Enough is enough," said Kristi Williams with JustTulsa.

Williams says she and others were calling for a nationwide search to find the best possible candidate, and then an opportunity to be involved in the selection of the next chief. Instead, she feels pandered too.

"How can we trust this person? We can't just trust them because they are black. That is so insulting. We want the right person for the job, and how do we know that we have the right person when we've not had a national search?" she said.

But those who have worked with Franklin say he is the right guy for the job.

"We're looking forward to working with Major Franklin, now soon to be Chief Franklin, and furthering the goals of the police department, furthering the goals of the Fraternal Order of Police, and making Tulsa a better Tulsa for everybody," said Mark Secrist, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #93.

As for the divide between the department and some communities, Secrist believes Franklin can make things better.

"I think a lot of things can be accomplished just by sitting down at a table and having a one on one conversation, rather than fighting things out in the media."

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