The high-profile case of an insurance executive who mistakenly shot and killed the target of an undercover gun deal by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office has put a magnifying glass on the agency's reserve deputy program, says the Tulsa World. The program includes a list of notable community members. When it was created in 1991, Sheriff Stanley Glanz wanted his newly trained reserves to work special events, patrol county parks and help with crowd control. Glanz said he spent $1,000 per graduate to equip them with a gun, bulletproof vest and uniform. Members underwent four months of training a couple of nights a week.
The program now is composed of three levels — basic, intermediate and advanced — and has an immense spotlight on it after one of its members mistakenly killed a suspect on an undercover, high-risk Violent Crimes Task Force operation. Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, was charged April 13 with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal April 2 shooting of Eric Harris, 44. A 2009 internal investigation that surfaced Friday paints a different picture regarding the conduct and training of one reserve in particular — Bates. The internal review was ordered to look into whether Bates was receiving special treatment and if pressure was exerted on deputies by supervisors to aid Bates. The investigation found fault with two high-ranking officials, preferential treatment of Bates and pressure to break from policy to benefit Bates.