Police First Follows Tulsa Today

Arrests Wednesday December 3 in Tulsa of Jermaine Link on a misdemeanor complaint of keeping a house of prostitution and Elizabeth Link on a misdemeanor complaint of engaging in prostitution and felony sexual battery followed a story by Tulsa Today posted November 27 covering the Seattle police vice detectives’ arrest of 104 men.

The Seattle effort was directed to both the customer and provider side of prostitution.  The Tulsa effort targeted only at one provider found on the craigslist.org’s Tulsa listing.  Tulsa Police Maj. Dennis Larsen told the daily newspaper and broadcast news organizations that after he “heard” about police departments on the West Coast conducting prostitution investigations stemming from ads on the site, he asked a team led by Cpl. Shellie Wood to see whether any such ads were posted for the Tulsa area.

They didn’t have to look hard as Tulsa Today posted the link directly to the Tulsa section.
Maj. Larsen with good media contacts and skills failed to credit the Tulsa Today story, but an additional failure to notify Tulsa Today’s reporters of the arrest speaks volumes.  Police depend on media as much or more than their own efforts to scare criminals and reassure the public that the community is safe.  Both law enforcement and traditional media often feel threatened by the independence of democracy online.

As Tulsa Today covered in the first story, Craig Newmark, who founded craigslist in San Francisco in 1995, told the Seattle Times he has heard that “prostitution is a significant problem” on the web site, but “we are a democracy … and we find we can trust our community,” he said. “I don’t know what the situation is like in Seattle, but we would prefer that [police] go after violent criminals or crooked congressmen.”

Traditional Tulsa media did not include comments by Newmark or any craigslist official.

Cpl. Wood used the arrest event to scare parents telling the daily paper, “parents should monitor their children’s Internet use.”  However, no report of any child’s usage of the Internet was involved in the Links’ arrests.  A computer is just a tool much like a telephone.  The Internet or the telephone system can be used for good or bad.  With all the crime conducted by telephone, police never seem to effort shutting down telephone companies.

There is crime in Tulsa as in all communities worldwide and Tulsa Today honors those who protect and serve the innocent in that daily fight.  However, better police public relations could be gained in stopping the more harmful operation of crack houses, violence, and professional criminal gangs that are so obviously operating within the area.

As the Tulsa Police Department apparently reads Tulsa Today, we will begin highlighting those criminal operations and focusing more on crime so obvious to residents, but apparently not as valued to police as the misdemeanors so loudly touted to traditional media in this case.

Maybe there is more public relations value and media good will in attacking the Internet.  It is certainly less local than investigating escort ads in free print publications.

Next week, Tulsa Today will post the first of a series of stories focusing on the open dealing of drugs on the streets of the city.  Yes, we have photographs.  If you have a crack house or open criminal activity in your neighborhood, let us know – on or off the record – and our reporters will follow up with you.  You may use the contact link at the top of the page or e-mail directly to editor@tulsatoday.com, but please include a daytime contact phone number.

To read the original Tulsa Today story on the Craigslist Sting, click here.
Last Updated ( Friday, 05 January 2007 )