Civil Liberties

Tulsa Cops May Have Falsified Training Records for Volunteer Deputy Involved in Fatal Shooting

Perhaps the department thought managing the Sheriff's re-election campaign was training enough?


U.S. Marshals Service/Flickr

The appalling story of Eric Harris' death at the hands of Tulsa County cops continues to get worse. Harris was fatally shot earlier this month by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, a volunteer officer who says he mistook his handgun for a Taser. Now sources say that Bates, 73, received no firearm or field training before being assigned to the county's Violent Crimes Task Force and that supervisors actually falsified records to make it appear Bates had received the state-required training. 

Sources within the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office told Tulsa World that they were instructed to give Bates credit for field training he never received and firearms certifications he didn't have when he applied as an advanced reserve deputy in 2007.  

At least three of reserve deputy Robert Bates' supervisors were transferred after refusing to sign off on his state-required training, multiple sources speaking on condition of anonymity told the World.

[…] Additionally, Sheriff Stanley Glanz told a Tulsa radio station this week that Bates had been certified to use three weapons, including a revolver he fired at Harris. However, Glanz said the Sheriff's Office has not been able to find the paperwork on those certifications.

No wonder a police investigator was quick to portray Bates shooting Harris as a totally understandable mix-up. But despite the police sergeant's sunny review, prosecutors have charged Bates with second-degree manslaughter for Harris' death. Video from the April 2 incident shows Harris—who was unarmed—pinned down on the ground by other deputies when Bates fired. After Harris complained that he couldn't breathe, one deputy can be heard telling him, "fuck your breath." 

The Sheriff's Office told Tulsa World that claims about falsified training records were untrue. It also said it will conduct an internal review of the reserve deputy program that Bates and about 100 others take part in. 

When not playing a police officer, Bates is an insurance executive. He was also manager of Sheriff Glanz's 2012 re-election campaign and has purchased five vehicles for the Violent Crimes Task Force.   

In a statement, Bates said he had been trained in Dallas and Arizona and had been on "at least 100" missions with Tulsa County officers. On April 1 he contacted the office to ask if there were any pending operations he could help with and was assigned to a mission taking place the next day, in which undercover officers were buying a gun from Harris. Prior to being sent out, Bates was informed that Harris was a dangerous, "bad son of a bitch" with gang affiliations. 

Auxiliary officer programs like the one Bates took part in are common around the country, reports the Wall Street Journal, with "thousands of reserve officers … carrying badges and guns but often lacking the qualifications or experience of their full-time counterparts." [Update: A commenter points out that Kid Rock is now a reserve officer in Michigan.]

Some reserve officers are volunteers, while others pay the city or county for the privilege of playing police. Some receive extensive training while in other places, like Louisiana, only firearm certification (no training) is required. "You can't even cut hair or work on plumbing in someone's house without the proper training," Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator pointed out in the Journal. "Yet you can ride around and stop people and make life-and-death decisions and not be trained at all."  

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  1. "You can't even cut hair or work on plumbing in someone's house without the proper training," Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator pointed out in the Journal.

    By "training" I think he means "special dispensation from the government to make a living."

    1. I almost put exactly that as a parenthetical but it kinda ruined the flow of the quote...

      1. The price of artistry!

        1. Verbal austerity?

    2. I especially love the 'cut hair' part. Why, without state licenses, those barbers would probably slit their clients' throats or accidentally lop an ear off!

      1. The original rationalizations were that barbers without training would not recognize head lice, ringworm, or other public health issues.

        See how easy it is? Statists suck. Crap I hate their mentality.

        1. This is hilarious. They have barber licenses allegedly to protect against ringworm epidemics?

          1. Yes. Plumbers were licensed to prevent amateurs forgetting to install traps and letting the noxious gases out; this was when miasma was a real thing, the ability of noxious smells alone to cause disease.

            Occupational licensing is nasty stuff. Goes hand in glove with rational basis to let legislatures do whatever the hell they want.

          2. Yes. That's why barber's licenses come from the Department of Health.

          3. There's a fantastic book on the history of the legal system from colonial days up to sometime recent; I lost interest somewhere in the 1900s. But everything before that was fascinating. I will look it up when I get home and post it here.

            There were two huge changes before 1776. Women could own land, and land could be sold. In England at the time, if memory serves, primogeniture ruled the roost, and it took an act of Parliament to transfer land ownership. But it's been a while since I read it, so there are probably finer nuances I have forgotten.

          4. Silly me! I thought the blue liquid in the jar with the combs and scissors was what protected against ringworm epidemics, not the tacky framed piece of paper on the wall with a ratty dollar bill taped to the glass.

            1. 'Tis a fiery brew that's bested many a sailor with her fermented froth. It'll burn your throat, unless you chase it with conditioner.

            2. The blue liquid is for cooties. Easy mistake to make when you don't have a piece of paper taped on your mirror.

              1. Barbicide (the blue stuff) is a germicide, pseudomonacide, fungicide, and a viricide, which is effective against the HIV-1 virus , Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. So the blue liquid isn't just for cooties.

      2. Why, without state licenses, those barbers would probably slit their clients' throats

        Barbers only slit one guy's throat, every thirty years or so.

        They do it in order to save the world.

      3. It used to happen every time.

  2. It's certainly true that this is a common practice. This was in today's Detroit Free Press:

    1. Oh, this is definitely worthy of an update within my post.

      1. "A commenter"?

        Would it kill ya to give the poor guy a hat tip by name?!

        *narrows gaze*

        1. Thx for the gaze. NTTAWWT.

      2. Elizabeth,

        Here's the first article I read about Oakley.

    2. Yes, Oakley... the town with 300 citizens and 150 reserve cops.

      1. So if I live in Oakley, I should be able to specifically request Kid Rock to come take my accident report.

      2. And it has a violent crimes task force with at least six vehicles.

    3. And Steven Segal in New Orleans.

    4. And Steven Segal in New Orleans.

      1. Isn't Ted Nugent deputized as well? Though I'm not sure if he goes out in the field or only did it so he isn't subject to concealed weapons laws.

      2. Jesus that is hilarious. and he has his own fucking show? Why am I just now learning about this? So basically there is a fat Nico running around new orleans hahahaha.

        1. Dude, when they show him use "Segalvision" to spot the perps it is completely hilarious.

    5. Don't forget about the Shaq Attack!

    6. I remember a soidisant Christian minister who was also a reserve deputy in Montana. He used to hand out copies of Romans xiii at roadblocks and whatnot.

  3. "Bates, 73, received no firearm or field training before being assigned to the county's Violent Crimes Task Force"

    To be fair - harping on this point is probably a mistake, since it seems to overvalue the 'certification and training' actual officers receive in the first place.

    bad shoot is bad shoot, and there should be major disincentives/penalties regardless of how 'trained' the Law Enforcement thug is.

    This 'training' shit is something progs use to try and label all self-defense shoots "illegal" as well

    1. The harping is valuable to add yet another turd onto the steaming pile of examples of why cops can't be trusted..They lie about everything.

      1. fair point - the shoddy coverup is probably more egregious

        1. I know. "New professionalism" my ass. If they want us treat them like professionals, they're going to have to raise their coverup game.

    2. The more important fact is that they FALSIFIED INFORMATION regarding his training. That sort of dishonesty seems to be more important than the lack of training in the first place.

      1. I wonder, since they can charge a person for murder as being involved in a crime even though they didn't kill anybody, shouldn't the Sherriff who let him out without training and anybody who falsified the records also be tried for manslaughter? The Felony Murder Law or something like that?

    3. Yeah, let's not promote the myth that cops are 'highly trained' and more capable and responsible than say, ordinary citizens with carry permits.

      1. Alternately, we could explore the point to its fullest and ask our fellow 'Muricans why the default cop is factually the same as a rampaging horde of Mongol invaders until we subject them to the very highest level of training to theoretically prevent it.

    4. I don't think that training should be thrown away because it's abused by the left. I want my cops to be properly trained in the tactics they need to interact properly with the public. Some schmoe with a gun and a few years of paper pushing experience has no business going on a gun raid.

      However, you're right. Official training and licensure isn't the end all of this case. Many cops are grossly incompetent despite (due to?) years of training.

    5. To be fair - harping on this point is probably a mistake, since it seems to overvalue the 'certification and training' actual officers receive in the first place.

      I'm fairly certain there's a line somewhere between those with the legal authority to execute government force and a barber. I can choose my barber. I get no such choice with the guy coming to arrest me for spitting on the sidewalk. I want those who deal in government force to be trained and certified out the ass, particularly in the areas that concern my rights.

    6. He had proper training before his senility.

    7. In this case, I think it's important--not to show that the level of training has anything to do with a bad shoot--but to show that the Tulsa PD is apparently a certifiable Old Boys Club. Some bored rich geezer with an authority fetish wanted to play cops 'n' robbers, so they basically handed him weapons and a badge because he was a police booster or whatever. And they wink-wink-nudge-nudged him right through any of the requirements other officers might be subject to, so he could live out those "respeck mah authoritay" fantasies of his without a moment's delay.

      The lies and coverup about his training will also be handy in the court cases.

      1. Police booster? Try major player in the good sheriff's re-election campaign.

    8. How hard could it be to train the dickens out of a 73 year old Insurance Man?

  4. OT:

    First: mad props for the company name: General Atomics.

    Second: photon cannon. WANT.

    C'mon guys, put up some video of this thing blowing stuff up real good.

    1. How is it powered?

      1. Oh = "'its packed with enough lithium-ion batteries to give you some number of shots (although, as with almost every question we asked, General Atomics won't give us specific numbers, because it's, well, classified)."

        1. They said it runs 70kW up to 300kW and fits inside 2 cubic meters. Someone should be able to do a rough order of magnitude calculation...

          300kW is about 400 hp, btw. That's like pumping all the power of a redlining Mustang GT into a tiny beam of light.

        2. "'its packed with enough lithium-ion batteries to give you some number of shots (although, as with almost every question we asked, General Atomics won't give us specific numbers, because it's, well, classified)."

          or... Unknowable.

    2. Question: If something like this were developed, would you be able to use it to shoot down nuclear missiles?

      1. I thought they already had that.

        Wasn't that what Star Wars (reagan, not lucas) was all about?

      2. Depends on the flight path of the missile and how good your trackimg motors are. Although at those energies, you don't have to be on target long.

      3. Yes and no. So that has been part of the plan since the 80s (at least). However there are many practical issues. The linked article says that Lockheed has torched missiles at 1.5 km. So that would make an effect Patriot-like missile defense system. But you don't want to wait until a nuclear weapon gets that close to you. So you want to do it in space where you have relatively small targets moving very, very fast at some serious distance away from you. Tracking, targeting, and getting enough energy on target are still big fucking problems.

        1. The Pentagon also had a giant laser on a 747 that could shoot down missiles out to 50 miles. No idea what the success rate was, but they did some proof of concept testing. I think the plan was to obtain air superiority and then use this thing to shoot down missiles as they launched.

          1. When a missile is coming at you, tracking is very easy -- just point at the incoming missile. The closer it gets, the more energy you get on the target. In space, you are trying to hit a target moving towards you, or away from you, or perpendicular to your path. It's like trying to stand up in the back of a moving pickup and shoot targets that are moving in random directions.

            1. Yeah, that's why they were planning to shoot missiles down just after launch. Motion is much more predictable then. Once they get into space its kind of hopeless with today's tech.

              1. Line of sight at 35,000 feet is about 220 miles. Which puts you pretty fucking close to the launch site.

    3. Yeah, but can it help Rebel ships run a blockade by disabling an Imperial Star Destroyer?

      1. It fires photons, not packets of ions. Duh!!!!!

    4. General Atomics made the Predator drone.

      1. General Atomics does all sorts of stuff that is interesting from a technology perspective.

        1. Yep. They had a really cool PFN (prompt fission neutron) borehole logging tool back in the early 80s when I was working in the geophysical field. It was the only real competition for our passive, cryo-cooled intrinsic germanium detector logging tool for high resolution borehole spectroscopy in the uranium exploration field.

          Nice technology, but working with a Cf252 source? No thanks.

    5. But will it fit in the bay of a B-1 and make popcorn?

  5. had been on "at least 100" missions with Tulsa County officers

    Missions? I can only assume he means Spanish missionary colonies, because officers are not goddamn soldiers.

    1. had been on "at least 100" missions donut runs with Tulsa County officers


    2. everytime they go out on patrol, they give it a code name.... like, "Operation: Phoenix Descending, Viking Goldmine, Serpent Thunder, Raging Matrix..etc."

      1. Operation Gigantic Erection

      2. Get Shorty

      3. Operation Bearclaw

        Operation Glazed/Sprinkles

        1. I am stealing Operation Bearclaw.

        1. ooh, "brazen" is good

          SOCOM missions tend to have the best "adjective + heavy-metal sounding object" combinations.

          Like, "Ostentatious Tentacle", or "Torpid Vampire"

      4. Operation Boston Creme Party

      5. Operation Exploding Crib

  6. If "undercover officers were buying a gun from Harris", then who could he simultaneously be unarmed?

    1. They wouldn't have tried to arrest until after the money and gun were exchanged.

      1. I guess my point was that the whole "buying a gun from Harris" thing could have been post kill bullshit.

        1. Ah, I see.

          And, technically, even if he had sold them a gun, that doesn't mean he couldn't have another.

          I would imagine that emphasizing it was a gun sale is to smear the victim.

        2. Nah, I guess they have him on video selling the cops a gun. But the gun was safely with the cops once Harris jumped out of the car and started running.

          1. Apparently Bates said he thought he saw Harris reaching in his pocket for a gun, but the video also shows Harris running with his arms flailing at his side the whole time.

  7. To my mind the lack of training doesn't absolve Mr Bates guit in the homicide of Mr Harris.

    In the end, a weapon's wielder is responsible for the injuries it causes. Mr Bates had a responsibility to learn how to use the weapons he was carrying, and learn how to use them proficiently. He had ample time with which to gain this proficiency. Nonetheless, he grabbed the wrong weapon, and fired several rounds into Mr Harris' back.

    Worse, last I checked, tasers are supposed to be a less-lethal weapon; ie used when deadly force would be appropriate but allowing the officer a less deadly option. If the manner in which Mr Harris was shot is murder, then we can infer that attacking him with a taser would also be some form of serious assault.

    While the lack of training does not absolve Mr Bates, it does call into question the leadership of the Tulsa County's Sheriff, Sheriff Glanz. The forging of official records, the violation of training procedures all suggest that the Sheriff is a terrible leader. Worse, if he is retaliating against his subordinates for refusing to violate the procedures that he formally puts out, it means that he is not in a position to enforce any form of discipline on his men. What if Mr Bates *had* intended to kill someone that night to satisfy some depraved appetite? Would the sheriff allow him to get away with it?

    1. Yes.

    2. There's also the minor issue that even if he had grabbed the right weapon, he was still planning on tazing a downed suspect for no reason when he was no longer a threat.

      If he hadn't shot him I think this would still be an instance of police brutality.

      1. Yep, that's what I am getting at with my third paragraph.

        Tasers should not be tolerated as compliance tools.

  8. Would it make yous feel any better, little girl, if the unarmed fella was accidentally shot dead by an officer with actual training?

    1. +1 curtains

    2. One of the best shows ever.

      1. Did it make Gillespie's list?

    3. It would be a less blatant case of institutionised hooliganery at least.

  9. OK, on one hand, I think that police should receive solid firearm training, and not just in mechanics, but decision making under stressful situations, deescalation techniques, etc. I'd say the same for this volunteer.

    But at the same time, I don't think such training should be mandatory for private citizens.

    And to be honest, I'm having trouble squaring that in my mind. I can try to justify it by arguing that cops accept training as terms of their employment, and no one has a right to a job. Whereas everyone does have a right to self defense.

    But what about the case of a private citizen who is voluntarily "policing" his own home? His own neighborhood? What if that is a purely individual choice and not part of any organized effort? Where is the line between the fundamental right to self defense and "private policing"? Is it purely a state-sanctioned vs non-state-sanctioned distinction? Or, to put it another way, do private citizens have a right to engage in law-enforcement? But again, where is the dividing line between enforcing the law and protecting your property? Or helping to protect someone else's?

    1. From Peel's rules of policing:

      7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

      1. That is always the mentality I have had, and I think that is why I am having trouble identifying the distinction that allows one to demand training for police but not for other people who carry. In the above definition the only distinction is that money is changing hands, but I'm uncomfortable with saying that that changes the nature of a fundamental right.

        1. Eliminate qualified immunity, and the behavior of police would change pretty dramatically.

          1. But, but, but police can't be forced to second guess themselves! Sure, it would mean fewer people killed by the police. But it might mean an officer might not go home to their family! Better that a million innocents to die at the hands of police with immunity than for one officer to not go home to their family!

        2. is why I am having trouble identifying the distinction that allows one to demand training for police but not for other people who carry.

          Government vs private.

          Private individuals have rights, the right to self defense, right to keep and bear arms...

          Government has no rights. It has limited powers granted to it by the people. Limiting government power (requiring a shit-ton of training) is a basic tenet in protecting the rights of the citizenry.

          How's that?

          1. In this particular context, I still have trouble squaring these ideas:

            All private citizens have the right (or maybe legal power) to enforce laws, and cops are just private citizens that happen to be paid (albeit by the state) to do so.

            Government has limited powers granted to it by the people.

            Again, in this particular context, the first statement doesn't make it sound like the citizens are granting any special powers to the police (who are government employees).

            It comes down to this: If the right to bear arms is fundamental (and I think it is), and if all citizens have the same power that the police have, then what is the justification for infringing on the right of the police to keep and bear arms without training?

            1. The police aren't private citizens (at least when on the job), they are government, which I, the citizenry (at least in theory) control. While they are acting in a government capacity, I can limit them to my heart's content. If they don't like it, they are free to resign. As soon as they punch out for the day, they have all the rights to walk around untrained with a gun that you and I have.

        3. Training is bull crap. Put applicants through some kind of test. If they can pass it, they may be hired. Otherwise, they can go find and pay for their own fucking training and try again.

    2. State imposed monopoly v. market based solution.

      If there is a state imposed monopoly, we, as citizens may impose moral requirements on the monopoly as legal requirements. (E.g. the 4th amendment). If it is a private citizen, we cannot. Private policing is (and should be) hemmed in by contract. If your neighbor is policing your property in an unsafe manner, you have a variety of tort and contractual rights to sue on.

      1. That makes sense for private property, but what about public spaces? Are the state-sanctioned police the only ones allowed to police on public space?

        1. I would say so, yes. Rent-a-cops for private property, government cops for government property (Let's not kid ourselves, public property is government property). I think anybody stupid enough to pull a Zimmerman in a public park is just asking for a civil and/or criminal complaint.

    3. To the extent that the law allows for police officers to use force in situations which ordinary citizens would not be permitted to use force in, and to the extent that police are given leeway in shooting situations that ordinary citizens would never be given, the training seems a fairly necessary and significant requirement.

      1. The law only allows police officers to use force when they've got reasonable suspicion that someone's committed a crime.

        In practice though they use force whenever the fuck they want, and then lie about it.

        Like my stepson said "My dad's a cop. He can do whatever he wants."

        That's their attitude because it's basically true. Who's going to stop them? The cops?

  10. The old guy apologized after shooting the guy. That right there shows that he's unfit to be a police officer. He lacks depraved indifference.

    1. That's the lack of training they're talking about.

  11. To me, the worst part about this whole incident is that it was a completely unnecessary event. From what I have read they already had him on a drug charge. But, cops being cops wanted to get him on a gun charge too so they set up the gun sting that went bad. It really reminds me of the Rachel Hoffman case in Florida. The cops, in their desire to bring additional or enhanced charged, introduce guns to the situation. And, someone dies.

    1. In fairness to the guns, it was the introduction of cops into the equation that was the causitive factor in someone dying.

      1. Touche.

    2. As long as the "someone does" was their target, they do not give a fuck. Hell, they cream themselves telling you how much taxpayer money they saved.

  12. Eliminate qualified immunity, and the behavior of police would change pretty dramatically.

    I concur.

    Also- from what little I know about this episode, it seems clear they wanted to tase the guy as punishment torture for running, not because he posed any sort of threat.

  13. Cops lie about everything because they can. I fail to see why anyone is surprised by this.

  14. When not playing a police officer, Bates is an insurance executive.

    I always knew those guys were evil, ever since I saw "The Incredibles."

    "I think you killed him, Bates."

    "Well, let's hope we don't cover him!"

  15. Perhaps the department thought managing the Sheriff's re-election campaign was training enough?

    She is so saucy.

  16. So wait, Kid Rock is a reserve deputy?

    Did he get that position before or after he painted the Sherrif's wife white?

    1. They call him if they need help finding a fellow officer.

      1. yeah but they have to get within a mile of the missing officers position first

  17. If he went on armed patrol without taking the required training, he should be charged with negligent homicide, as should everyone who condoned it.

  18. How is Tulpa not in THIS thread?

    1. Isn't his MO to wait a couple days and then corpse fuck the thread?

      1. Not today - he's been busy harassing some poor expat in an earlier thread.

    2. Fuck, I thought the headline said "Tulpa Cops" and came here just for the beatdown.

  19. Bates, 73, received no firearm or field training before being assigned to the county's Violent Crimes Task Force

    wait, are you saying the Sheriff's department assigned a *73 year old* to the VCTF?

  20. At any rate, how fucking hard is it not to fire a loaded weapon at somebody? The idea that a person needs special training to be enabled to master this skill is absurd. Imagine a proper citizen enleavening such a defense after shooting someone or other.

  21. "Fuck your breath" is going to live forever, isn't it?

    1. ask not what your country can do for you - ask if your country would kindly stop strangling you

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