OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley faced the community in a virtual town hall Tuesday night for one of the first times since protests occurred in Oklahoma City.
Gourley was joined by the Rev. John Reed, of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church, to answer questions on race relations in the city.
“Anytime we can get out in the community and let people ask us questions is always a good thing,” said Gourley.
One of the first questions asked was “is racism a problem within the Oklahoma City Police Department?”
Gourley answered by sharing a question asked to him by the reverend.
“He asked me if I could look him in the eye and tell him that we had no racist police officers, and I told him I can’t because I don’t know what’s in everyone’s heart,” said Gourley.
Reed added, “Racism is ingrained in the lives of people, so when I asked him that, I wanted him to know that there is a possibility.”
Another person asked Gourley if the recent killing of George Floyd and instances of police brutality have changed his opinion of law enforcement.
Gourley replied, “Just as we see a serious crime in a community, we don’t automatically think the whole community is bad. We realize that one person decided to break the law and didn’t do what they were supposed to do and we hold them accountable.”
But protesters disagree. Some are still protesting in Oklahoma City weekly, arguing that police escalated tensions in early protests, leading to violence and the arrests of 13 people.
KFOR asked Gourley about the accusations. He responded with, “When those protests turned the way they did, we responded and it was because of the people’s actions that were involved in that, a small group in those crowds that decided to be disruptive. Since that has stopped, if you look at any protest the past several months since that time, you haven’t seen one single police officer.”
Gourley was also asked whether or not he agreed with any aspects of defunding police. He answered by saying he thinks it is important to put more funding towards community programs, however, he doesn’t believe they should be funded by taking money away from police.
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