A Tulsa police officer has been charged with robbery for allegedly stealing cash during a traffic stop.
Officer Marvin Blades Junior, 37, was arrested on August 25th. He's now charged with five counts of 2nd degree robbery. Court records released on Friday show that since August 9th, 2011 TPD has received 12 complaints of a law officer stealing cash from motorists during vehicle stops.
During a news conference on the 25th, TPD Chief Chuck Jordan said he believes the officer was acting alone.
"I promised the citizens of Tulsa 18 months ago that we would target any criminal or unethical behavior committed by our officers," said Chief Jordan. "Last night approximately at Tulsa police arrested one of their own."
Investigators with the TPD Special Investigations Division, Robbery and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics began investigating Blades Jr. several months ago after allegations surfaced that he'd been targeting Hispanic drivers in the area of North Lewis Avenue.
On the evening of August 24th, officers conducted a sting operation. An undercover agent with the OBN was pulled over by Blades Jr. in the 2800 block of North Lewis. Investigators say Blades Jr. ordered the driver to the rear of the car, but had him leave his wallet on the seat. That's when investigators claim the officer stole six $100 bills from inside the wallet. He then sent the driver on his way.
Investigators observed the officer until they could safely arrest him several hours later. They found $600 in his right pants pocket. Blades Jr. told them it belonged to his wife, but the serial numbers on the bills matched the ones in the wallet.
Officer Marvin Blades Jr. was working the first shift in the Gilcrease Division at the time of the arrest.
"While I am disappointed and disturbed by the actions of this single officer, I am at the same time proud of his peers who came forward immediately and reported such behavior," said Chief Jordan.
The next challenge for Chief Jordan is instilling confidence back into the Hispanic community in Tulsa.
“I am glad that the good Lord saw to it that somebody in the department saw what he (Blades) was doing and had the right mind to let other authority to know what was happening,” said Dr. Victor Orta, a local pastor at a north Tulsa church.
Orta is disappointed in officer Blades and is concerned about his community’s trust in the police. He said they left other Hispanic countries to escape police corruption.
“There is a lot of corruption there (other countries) with the cops and all and they are alarmed and stunned that it is happening here too,” said Dr. Orta.
He said he knows Blades was targeting undocumented Hispanics because they would be afraid to report Blades on account of their immigration status.
“We will encourage our Hispanics to not be afraid, and to call,” said Dr. Orta. “Organizations out there, Hispanic First Commission, our churches, the Immigration Reform and Control Committees, Catholic charities; we will encourage them and volunteer to go with them so they will not be deprived of protection from the police.”
Dr. Orta believes the Hispanic community will learn to trust the local authorities.
“I say yes because Hispanics in our culture we respect those in authority and as a Christian we know the bible says to respect those in authority.”
Officer Marvin Blades Junior was booked on a $25,000 bond. He bonded out the same day.