TULSA, OK (KTUL) -- Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan says his comments in a recent newspaper article about the arrest rate of African Americans in Tulsa were taken out of context. The quote in question was published in the Tulsa World: "I think history has proven that we're going to have more crime problems from that community.” The chief meant that black Tulsans are more likely to be arrested than other races.
"My comments were taken out of context," Jordan said Tuesday. "I have stated in the past and I believe that past societal issues are a factor in criminal behavior, as are other issues including poverty and education. I believe that when we as a society address those past issues along with current poverty and educational issues we all will see a more peaceful society in which we live.”
Community activist Marq Lewis, of We The People Oklahoma, says African Americans have a higher arrest rate because they are targeted and not necessarily because of a higher rate of crime.
"If they can say to us it's not targeted, I guarantee you African Americans in Tulsa feel that they are a target," said Lewis. "I guarantee you if you put the same amount of police officers in the white community, you will also have probably the same amount of arrests."
Part of the chief's statement is included below:
My use of the term “that community” immediately followed a statement that read, “I suspect we have a socioeconomic factor as far as arrests," the police chief said. "I think you have a portion of the community that is somewhat disenfranchised, and a portion of the community that is not at the same economic level.” The term “that community” referenced the impoverished and economically deprived community.
Anyone who so desires can find Bureau of Justice statistics that have shown for decades that there is direct correlation between socio-economic factors and crime. We do not use those statistics to point a finger at any segment of our society but we do use them to address crime trends that plague our citizens. We see the same dynamic in all sectors of our community in reference to poverty and crime regardless of racial makeup.
Solutions to crime problems may very well include improving infrastructure, education, health care, community policing and economic development. Part of the solution will also be enforcement. It will take an honest and forthright partnership between the community and the police department to resolve these problems.
My words were not intended to divide and I am disappointed that my words are being used out of context in an attempt to do so.