Terry Simonson: Tulsa murder rate isn't so bad, when you don't count all the killings

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Terry Simonson, Dewey Bartlett Jr's former chief of staff, writes that Tulsa's murder rate isn't all that bad, if you don't count all the murders:

It's hard for the community to be concerned about the number of homicides when it's gang members killing gang members. When you think about it, who's really complaining about that? Those deaths are certainly a loss to the families of the fallen gang member, but is it actually a loss to the community? It sounds like good public safety work being done for the police by the gangs. Wiping out gangs is, after all, the focus of local law enforcement, and they can use all the help they can get. If the gangs want to kill each other, we certainly don't want to stop them. This is a callous, but true, assessment of the situation. The sad part of these gang-on-gang shootings are the innocents who end up being killed in cross-fire and drive-by shootings....

Like the gang related and home invasion killings, the eight people killed in drug related deaths are people who have made death wish choices in the life styles they have chosen. They live by the sword and they die by the sword.

So, at the end of the day, when you take out the drug killings, gang killings, alcohol-related killings and home invasion killings, for a city of almost 400,000 people, our homicide rate is one of the lowest in the nation.

Gee, that just makes me feel all cozy!

Dear Daughter's comment: "If I didn't know better, I'd say he was a troll."

Terry Simonson pushes through Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's office doorI don't know where Terry lives these days. When he was married to his first wife, they lived in a gated community across 81st Street from Holland Hall -- I was at his home for a fundraiser once -- and I suppose if you lived in such surroundings you might believe that you could be insulated from the effects of gang warfare. Stay behind your walls, order everything through amazon.com, and all will be well.

Does Simonson believe that we can establish no-go zones, wall off whole sections of Tulsa, and the savages will destroy each other and leave decent folk alone?

Does Terry Simonson believe that Graydon Brown was asking for trouble when he took his daughter shopping in the I-44 & Darlington Best Buy on a Sunday afternoon?

Gang violence affects innocent people all over Tulsa, including innocent people in the gangsta's own family, own apartment building, own neighborhood.

For too long, we've read news stories like the recent high school graduate shot and killed just because she was driving down an east Tulsa neighborhood street. Or the bright young man in north Tulsa with a promising future who was hit and killed by a stray gang bullet.

In 2008, the youngest elected city councilor in California, 22-year-old Matt Garcia of Fairfield, was shot and killed by drug dealers who thought they were administering gangland justice to someone who owed them money for drugs. The getaway driver told police that it was a case of mistaken identity. This happened in a nice suburban neighborhood, where Garcia had just arrived at a friend's house.

Years ago, Tulsans were annoyed to have a police chief who wanted to deal with the gang problem by refusing to acknowledge the existence of gangs. It's no better to have leaders who admit there's a gang problem but think nothing can be done about it.

Simonson doesn't work as Bartlett Jr's chief of staff any more, but this op-ed certainly reads like an apologia for the appalling murder rate we're enduring under his old pal's administration. And Simonson indicates that Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan not only agrees with his perspective but actually inspired Simonson's thoughts on this topic:

Recently, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan made some good points when he discussed the recent rise in the crime of homicide. He pointed out that the majority of killings come from specific types of situations where the individuals have made some bad decisions. In Tulsa, we've had 54 homicides this year. However, if you look at what makes up that number it isn't as daunting as it may seem. An overview of the homicides so far in 2013 shows that the killings resulting from drug deals going bad account for eight of the killings, 18 were a result of altercations (many of which involved alcohol), and nearly 10 of the killings were tied to either robberies or were gang related.

Homicides, whether gang-related or not, are a measure of the level of danger and disorder in a community. Public safety -- restraining and punishing evildoers -- is government's number one duty, its God-given (literally --- see Romans 13) responsibility. If I can't feel safe in a city shopping on a Sunday afternoon, I'm not going to care about water in the river, a big sports arena, or a new ballpark.

No, we can't expect any mayor to eliminate crime. Crime is a function of the innate leanings of human nature toward evil, amplified by a culture that promotes self-indulgence. A mayor can't fix human nature or the culture, but effective law enforcement can deter and restrain crime nevertheless. We have every right to expect that our municipal leaders will at least try and not make excuses for failure.

UPDATE: Dustbury's Charles G. Hill points out that Simonson's assessment echoes that of a storied east coast mayor. (More quotes from that same mayor here.)

UPDATE 2014/04/18: Gang warfare in the "nice" part of town?

Tulsa police say shots were fired from a Crown Victoria at an SUV while heading westbound on 71st Street.

It started near Memorial and ended at the intersection of 71st and Sheridan, where a third car occupied by a family of four was caught in the middle.

(Also, moved defunct Urban Tulsa link to the Wayback Machine's copy.)

RELATED: Chicago magazine exposé on the creative way the City of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel is redefining homicide and other crimes and dramatically improving Chicago's crime rate in the process.

Chicago conducted a 12-month examination of the Chicago Police Department's crime statistics going back several years, poring through public and internal police records and interviewing crime victims, criminologists, and police sources of various ranks. We identified 10 people, including Groves, who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents--all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.

This troubling practice goes far beyond murders, documents and interviews reveal. Chicago found dozens of other crimes, including serious felonies such as robberies, burglaries, and assaults, that were misclassified, downgraded to wrist-slap offenses, or made to vanish altogether. (We'll examine those next month in part 2 of this special report.)

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2 Comments

Graychin said:

This is what a true elitist sounds like - best to let "them" just kill each other off. Problem solved. We have our gated communities and private security.

What a jerk!

If the Tulsa Republican party would disown Terry Simonson and proclaim him anathema, the party would be a lot better off. With Simonson's history, I can't believe this guy manages to stay on a Tulsa government payroll - as he still is, now with the sheriff's office. He must know where a lot of bodies are buried.

It says a lot about Dewey Bartlett's judgment that he appointed a guy like Simonson to be his shadow mayor - until Simonson's inherently corrupt nature bubbled up in public with the firefighter training fiasco.

Karri Peterson said:

Simonson is not telling the whole story. The gangs are targeting neighborhood watch leaders. City leaders are asking neighborhood watch leaders to fend off gangs strengthened with guns and drugs out of Mexico and associated with cartel. They train their foot soldiers to try to boyfriend in young girls into prostitution on our streets. I wish people would understand what it is like to have people threaten to murder you and to keep repeating that threat. When has Bartlett (or Taylor) even so much as referenced the cartel threat in Tulsa? I don't like Taylor at all, but I am disgusted by all politicians in our region for looking at national issues instead of dealing with public safety issues here now in the mayoral race. All have failed, IMO. Bartlett is corrupt. So is Taylor. I honestly feel the GOP has failed me in this area with their silence and I am well aware the Dems have no solution either. I am praying for Tulsa because there is simply no leadership, just money, slogans, and deliberate misinformation to get elected.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 26, 2013 5:28 PM.

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