Chicken-Fried News: Bad policing 

  • Ingvard Ashby

This week’s entry of elected leaders blatantly ignoring constituents features Mayor GT Bynum putting reality television ahead of what local leaders say would be protecting Tulsa’s vulnerable populations.

Local community leaders, including elected officials, have recently pressured Bynum to end Tulsa’s contract with A&E’s Live PD. The contract was dropped around 2017 but renewed last year by Bynum. Despite voicing his support to drop the contract in 2017 because “my job is to keep the citizens of Tulsa safe, not providing fodder for reality TV,” Bynum has changed his tune. Bynum does know he’s up for reelection this year, right?

“I supported the cancellation of Live PD previously because I felt the presence of a television camera crew served as a distraction for our officers in the field,” Bynum wrote to Tulsa World in an email. “I have since come to appreciate that our training staff greatly values the footage from the show as it allows them to teach from real life scenarios at our academy.”

You know what else is similar to Live PD footage but less exploitative since it’s not on national television? Dash and body cameras. Bynum was quick to remind the crowd at a town hall that every field officer is equipped with body cameras but left out the fact that citizens have to file open records requests for footage, while anything Live PD films belongs to Big Fish Entertainment and consistently only paints law enforcement in a positive light.

City councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Rep. Regina Goodwin, former police chief Drew Diamond and many community leaders gathered outside City Hall days after the town hall to continue urging an end to the city’s contract with Live PD.

“Policing is not about entertainment. If you in the news media want to be in the car, you can be in the car. That’s news; this is about entertainment,” Diamond said. “They are using the officers and the city for entertainment value. It’s bad policing; it’s bad policy; and it needs to be stopped.”

Bynum said the show benefits Tulsa, which makes no sense since it’s clearly not improving police-community relations and doesn’t help Tulsa’s image. Probably the only people attracted to Tulsa after seeing Live PD — mostly white police officers arresting mostly black and brown individuals, many of whom would benefit from mental health and addiction services rather than a camera in their face on their worst day — are white supremacists. We’re pretty sure the state, and Tulsa particularly, has seen enough of them already. 

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