Tulsa police major addresses comments made to radio host

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates responded to backlash late Tuesday night over the comments he made in a recent interview.

Yates appeared on joined a talk radio show for an interview Monday that touched on the recent protests in Tulsa and around the country.

In the interview, Yates questions the idea of systemic racism leading to police violence.

“This is what they’re trying to say that all these changes need to come from: this is why we’re protesting, this is why we’re rioting. Because of systematic abuse of power and racism. That just doesn’t exist," Yates said.

“All of the research says we’re shooting African-Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.”

Yates responded to an accompanying article that came after the interview in a Facebook post late Tuesday night.

“For one thing, beyond the outrageous, inflammatory headline, I was misquoted,” Yates wrote on Facebook.

“In the context of comparing the probabilities drawn from the statistical research of others, I said, ‘…all of their research says we’re shooting African-Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed… This isn’t Travis talking—the research is sound, but nobody’s watching it.'"

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum commented on the Yates interview Wednesday morning.

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“I want to believe [Yates] didn’t intend to say what he did, but what he did say goes against everything we are trying to achieve in community policing," he said in part.

Bynum said the comments are under review.

In 2016, Yates came under fire for a blog post in which he suggested police officers were “at war" and criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

He apologized for the post.

The Tulsa Black Officers Coalition says the comments reflect Yates attitude and is causing a divide between white and black officers at TPD.

Tulsa Police Department released a statement on the comments:

“On 6-9-2020 the Tulsa Police Department was made aware of comments made by Travis Yates on a local radio show earlier this week. We appreciate and respect the concerns we are hearing from the community regarding these comments. Chief Wendell Franklin and the Tulsa Police Department want to make it very clear we do not endorse, condone or support Yates’ comments made on the show. This matter has been referred to our Internal Affairs Unit.We want to make it clear the statements made by Yates are not a part of any curriculum or training provided by the Department. Yates’ comments do not align with the mission, values or policies of the Tulsa Police Department. The Tulsa Police Department is comprised of 1,041 employees (838 of whom are sworn peace officers) from a variety of races, religions, political views, and belief systems. We respect the diversity in our ranks and the diversity in our community. We are striving to do our part to heal pain in our community and we ask our community to continue to work with us as we endeavor for improvement.Yates is a Major with the Department currently assigned to the Records Division which is primarily staffed with civilian employees. Yates’ statements during his appearances on this show are not made while on duty and are neither official representations of the Department nor of his fellow officers.”