- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - County commissioners chose a company Monday to conduct a review of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office more than two months after the fatal shooting of a restrained man by a volunteer deputy.

Commissioners voted unanimously to select Texas-based Community Safety Institute to perform the review, which will cost $75,000 and take about five months to complete. The audit comes after reserve deputy Robert Bates fatally shot and killed Eric Harris on April 2 and a leaked 2009 memo that raised concerns about the volunteer’s training.

“Any time you open yourself up to outside eyes looking in on your operations, how you can be more efficient, it’s a good thing,” Commissioner Karen Keith said Monday.

Bates has said he confused his handgun with his stun gun and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter. Bates is white; Harris was black. The victim’s brother has said he does not believe race played a role.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. A local civil rights group is collecting signatures for a grand jury to investigate whether Sheriff Stanley Glanz neglected his duties and whether reservists who gave gifts to the sheriff were given special treatment. Bates, a friend of Glanz, has donated tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, vehicles and cash to the Sheriff’s Office.

The reserve deputy program has been temporarily suspended pending a review of the certification and training records of its 126 reservists.

“Nothing of this nature has occurred within the sheriff’s office,” Glanz said in a statement. “The changes that will come as a result of this work will position the sheriff’s office to be on the cutting edge of future law enforcement organizations in America.”

Glanz had informally recommended Community Safety Institute to conduct a separate pay and manpower study, but those plans were abandoned after the shooting. The firm became one of three that submitted bids for the current review.

Michael Willis, a county spokesman and one of five members of an evaluation committee that recommended the firm, said Glanz could have hired a company directly as a professional service provider - much like an agency hires an accounting firm - but chose to go through the bid process for the sake of transparency.

“What happened today is the future,” said Terry Simonson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. “How do you go forward to build the best sheriff’s office that the citizens of Tulsa County deserve?”

A spokesman for the civil rights group collecting signatures to request a grand jury investigation did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the matter Monday.



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