TULSA, Okla. — A document associated with the city of Tulsa's contract with the creators of the show “Live PD” on A&E is leading some to ask if the city properly discussed both the benefits and ramifications of allowing Tulsa police to be a part of the show again.
In the document, a standard cover form for city contracts, there is a section that says "city council approval" followed by the option to check "yes" or "no". The “yes” box is checked, but there never was any kind of formal City Council meeting or vote on the new contract with the creators of “Live PD.”
Marq Lewis, with We The People Oklahoma, discovered the “yes” box selection after requesting a copy of the new contract in an open records request. He then asked city councilors when a meeting had been held on the new contract with Big Fish Entertainment.
When Lewis tagged councilors on social media, some of them replied by saying no vote was ever taken and no such meeting was held.
FOX23 asked Mayor G.T. Bynum's office about the "yes" box being checked without the council's knowledge and was told it had been a clerical error while the document was being filled out. FOX23 was told the form is standard for a lot of city documents, including ones that don't require city council approval.
The mayor's office showed FOX23 the Tulsa city charter, which says the mayor is allowed to enter into and carry out all contracts and agreements pertaining to the city of Tulsa.
Lewis said he believes the city rushed through the paperwork to get Tulsa police on the show's current season.
"I'm not even sure they went line by line and reviewed everything," Lewis said. "This contract opens up the city to lawsuits, and this show does more than just follow the police around and film them."
Lewis said that with the controversy that took place the last time the show featured Tulsa police, there should have been a public hearing or at least some type of discussion with city councilors on what's changed between the first time the police department was on the show and now.
At least three city councilors told FOX23 they understand the mayor's office has control over such contracts without the need for council approval, but since the show was controversial the last time it was in Tulsa, they would have liked to review policies and procedures that will be followed with the show.
"I don't like how it looks like the council signed our names to something when, in fact, there was no meeting held on the topic whatsoever," District 3 Councilor Crista Patrick said.
"We never had any kind of meeting related to that show," District 2 Councilor Jeanne Cue told FOX23. "But I do want to know if they'll focus on crime across the city as opposed to just in certain parts."
"We should have had some kind of review and the chance to ask questions," District 1 Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said. Hall-Harper's district was heavily featured the first time "Live PD" was in Tulsa. Some residents thought the stories shown and the way things were filmed portrayed them negatively.
"That contract is under the mayor's control. I understand that," Hall-Harper said. "But we should've had some kind of review."
District 5 Councilor Cass Fahler said he believes the cooling-off period has remedied some of the concerns that came up the first time the show was in Tulsa.
"Tulsa police has been under so much scrutiny and review since being off the show in the last two years, that I think some of the concerns that came up before have been addressed and aren't likely to happen again," Fahler said.
Fahler said the “yes” check was simply a clerical error, but he believes that, in the future, it might be best to use different cover sheets for certain city agreements.
The mayor's office said the form is a cover sheet and is not part of the contract, despite having the mayor's signature and other official signatures on it.
Lewis said there are no guarantees that things have officially changed in either police policy or in how Big Fish will portray Tulsans, especially in Latino and black communities.
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