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Residents concerned after watching accused criminal drive police vehicle

TONKAWA, Okla. - Residents in Tonkawa were confused and alarmed Wednesday when they saw a man, who was arrested for a violent crime just a few days before, driving alone in a police vehicle. The police chief said he was just helping the man's business.

"He said business had been down a little bit so I said, 'Hey, I need some cars detailed,'" said Tonkawa Police Chief John Whitham.

Whitham hired long-time acquaintance, Christopher Kesinger, to do some work on his police car Wednesday.

"He came and picked it up, and detailed it for me. It's sitting outside. It looks like he did a really good job," said Whitham.

But, that decision was immediately under scrutiny.

Just a few days before, Tonkawa police arrested Kesinger at his home.

According to the affidavit, Kesinger is accused of strangling and slapping a person during an argument.

On Tuesday, he was charged with domestic abuse.

When neighbors saw the accused man driving a police vehicle alone, they told News 4 it was not only confusing, but alarming, and even threatening.

The chief said if Kesinger was convicted, it would be a different story.

"Until then, it's just a judgment call," Whitham said. "It wasn't like he was out joyriding or anything, and I've known him a long time."

The chief said he removed everything from the vehicle first, including guns, handcuffs, and evidence kits.

"It was from the police station straight to this shop, and from this shop, straight to the police station," Kesinger told News 4. "No driving around."

Kesinger said he can't understand what the big deal is.

"I think there's being more made out of it than there really is because, just because I've been accused of it, it didn't happen. There's just accusations out there," Kesinger said.

The chief agrees, saying it's been blown out of proportion.

"That's the kind of business he operates," Whitham said. "I think people are just too easily offended in this day and age."

However, he said if he continues to utilize Kesinger's services, he may drop off the vehicles in the future.