Oklahoma City police Chief Wade Gourley is promising change to his department following riots last week, but he’s defending how its officers performed their duties.
Black Live Matter OKC is demanding Gourley resign and said his officers escalated the situation Saturday and Sunday.
News 9 asked the chief on Friday if there was anything his officers could have done differently to keep the situation from getting violent.
“I don’t believe so because I watched it. I was here. All the officers did not respond with anything until they were attacked,” Gourley said.
One Oklahoma City police officer was hit in the face with a rock, while two other officers were assaulted and injured.
Since taking office last July, Gourley helped make it a policy that any Oklahoma City police officer must report any use of force incident.
While the chief said “chokeholds” and “strangleholds” to subdue an individual are not tactics taught to his officers, they are not officially banned in policy books.
“I’m working on a chief directive to put in writing what we have already been doing,” Gourley said.
The chief said any officer using such tactics now would already be disciplined.
In 2018, the Oklahoma City Police Department implemented a deescalation policy.
Officers are trained to hold back at incidents, talk with individuals and better recognize issues like mental illness.
Gourley said his department is one of the few nationwide to have such a policy.
Meanwhile, the chief said improving race relations remains a priority.
“I’ve learned that as good as we think we have been, we still have improvements,” Gourley said. “I think what I’ve got to do is get community leaders involved and see what can I do better."
Gourley said his department has a relationship with local Black Lives Matter group.
Since it called for his resignation on Monday, he has not spoken with the them.
This week, OKC City Manager Craig Freeman, who hired Gourley as police chief, said the chief has his full support.