Community Leaders Address Holtzclaw Sentencing At OKC Council Meeting

Tuesday, January 19th 2016, 12:04 pm
By: News 9

Community leaders are calling on Oklahoma City City Council members to take action to represent and protect the city's most vulnerable victims.

This was just days before a former Oklahoma City police officer is set to be sentenced for sex crimes he reportedly committed while on the job.

At the end of Tuesday morning’s city council meeting, the president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the NAACP and a retired lawmaker who used to live in the area where the women were attacked spoke to council members. 

“In his mind they were among the people whose lives don't matter,” said Connie Johnson, a retired state senator who knows all about standing up for the people in her community, especially the women she said are under-served, unheard and often ignored. “Our values as black women have been assaulted and insulted.”

Oklahoma City NAACP president Garland Pruitt was another who spoke out about the fallout surrounding the arrest and conviction of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw.

Holtzclaw was found guilty on 18 of the 36 felony counts he faced. They include several counts of rape, sexual battery and other sex crimes that reportedly happened while he was on duty.

He is set to be formally sentenced at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma County courthouse.

Pruitt told the council he would like to see a board created to address police and community relations and problems as they arise.

“My concern is that we have some form of an oversight, independent of what we have in place now,” Pruitt said.

Holtzclaw's conviction was aired live online and on TV for all the world to see.

“If you would have told me I had a serial rapist on my department before this happened, I would have just said that would never happen,” Oklahoma City police Chief Bill Citty said.

Citty said trust within the minority community has always been an issue, but Holtclaw's arrest and conviction only magnified the problem. Today, he sat and listened as some of those supporting the victims came forward to address the city council.

He said the city does have a citizen’s advisory board that was created several years back.

Citty said they continue to have discussions on how to improve relations, and currently are working on a summit with the minority community to discuss law enforcement issues.

The summit is set for January 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oklahoma Judicial Center at 2100 N. Lincoln Ave.

“I think it’s important to hear the concerns of the community, I’ve never taken that for granted as police chief,” Citty said. “What the community feels and that distrust they feel is real. I don’t dismiss that. We have to work to earn that trust.”

There is also a town hall meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 20 at Langston University's Oklahoma City campus located at 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd. The meeting is open to the public.

Benjamin Crump, who announced last month that he is representing five of the women who testified against Daniel Holtzclaw, is expected to speak. Crump is a Florida attorney who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.