Oklahoma sheriff puts restriction on reserve deputy program

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Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a man during an arrest attempt, turned himself in Tuesday to authorities at the Tulsa County Jail.
Credit: CNN

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(CNN) — The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has made changes to its reserve deputy program, which has come under scrutiny since a 73-year-old in the program fatally shot a suspect he meant to subdue with a Taser.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz said in a press release that reserve deputies cannot patrol alone. They must be partnered with certified deputies.

He also said the reserve program “advanced classification” will be postponed while every reserve deputy’s training is audited.

Robert Bates was classified as an advanced reserve deputy on April 2, when he was backing up other deputies and shot and killed suspect Eric Harris.

Bates has said he meant to grab his Taser but pulled out his pistol instead. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

Training has become a major issue since the shooting, with the victim’s family alleging Bates didn’t have the proper training but was allowed to wear a uniform because he donated vehicles and other equipment to the Sheriff’s Office.

An internal inquiry by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in 2009 concluded that Bates was shown special treatment and that training policies were violated regarding his role with the agency.

The Tulsa World newspaper reported some supervisors in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were told to forge Bates’ records and were reassigned when they refused. The Sheriff’s Office denied the allegations in the newspaper’s report. It also declined a CNN interview to respond to the claims.

The Sheriff’s Office says it has 126 reserve deputies on the force.

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