What to Read This Week
1. Oklahoma Governor Calls For Sheriff’s Resignation
“I’ve got an excavator.”
That’s what McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy is accused of saying in a conversation on the topic of killing a local reporter, Chris Willingham, who had recently filed a defamation complaint against the sheriff’s department.
The McCurtain Gazette News first reported the bombshell story, which involves a discussion between the sheriff, a sheriff’s department investigator, a county commissioner, and a county jail administrator who were caught on tape [audio file] following a meeting of the McCurtain County Commission.
Here’s how the conversation transpired:
Alicia Manning, a sheriff’s department investigator, is accused of suggesting that she was worried that she couldn’t control herself if she ran into Willingham, the reporter who filed the defamation complaint.
Next, the county commissioner, Mark Jennings, allegedly said that his elderly father’s way of dealing with the issue would be to “go down there and just kill him.”
That led Mr. Jennings, the commissioner, to allegedly offer: “I know where two big, deep holes are here if you ever need them.”
That’s when the Sheriff is accused of making the excavator comment.
The Oklahoman also describes how the conversation turned to a “lamenting that modern justice no longer includes hanging black people.” We’ll spare you the full back and forth, but here’s the alleged line in the conversation that really captures the tone:
Commissioner: “I’m gonna tell you something. If it was back in the day, when [former Sheriff] Alan Marston would take a damn black guy and whoop their ass and throw him in the cell? I’d run for fucking sheriff.”
Sheriff: “Yeah. Well, It’s not like that anymore.”
Commissioner: “I know. Take them down to Mud Creek and hang them up with a damn rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They got more rights than we got.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt released a statement calling for the sheriff’s resignation:
“There is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office. I will not stand idly by while this takes place … In light of these events, I am calling for the immediate resignation of McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy…”
2. “An indefensible level of incompetence…”
Helen Ubiñas, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote this week about a single case that captures some of the why behind the Philadelphia Police Department’s failure to solve 53% of the city’s murders:
“I thought I'd heard it all from families of homicide victims frustrated with the Police Department's sometimes indifferent responses to their loved ones’ deaths. And then I got a call from Monique Irvis, who shared some of the unfortunately commonplace grievances of being disrespected and ghosted by homicide detectives—but with one stunning difference. Her son's case file—which contained interviews, leads on suspects, and anything else that might help police solve the case—had apparently gone missing
From the start of the investigation into her son's murder, Irvis has pushed for answers and accountability. She demanded a new detective when she felt the first one assigned to the case was brushing off leads she thought could help solve her son’s murder. The next detective was better, she said, but then he retired. A few more followed after that, but 16 years later, the case remained unsolved …”
And now the police appear to have lost the case file—a fact that a friend of the victim’s mother described as, “like watching her lose her son twice.”
3. Even Worse Than Philly: The Baltimore Police Department Solves Fewer Than One-In-Four Murders.
If you pick up a gun, pull the trigger, and take a life in Baltimore, you are far more likely to get away with it than to be identified and arrested.
According to records obtained by Protect and Serve, the Baltimore Police Department cleared just 24.9% of homicides over a period of two years—from 1/1/2021 through 4/17/2023.
And the BPD’s solve rate for non-fatal shootings is even lower if such a thing could be imagined, sitting at just 17% over the same time period. Experts say that a police department’s inability to solve serious crimes like murder fosters a lack of accountability in the culture, which in turn fosters gun violence.
Nowhere is a better example of that phenomenon than Baltimore, a city plagued by gun violence, including a quadruple-shooting that just occurred this morning on a public street at 11:45 A.M. on a Monday. As one local resident told CBS news, the ultimate result is that Baltimore “used to be Charm City, [but] this is Harm City now.”
For whatever it’s worth—and in 83% of non-fatal shootings it’s not much—BPD Commissioner Michael Harrison told the Baltimore Sun that “detectives are looking for evidence, cameras and witnesses. Detectives are trying to determine what led to the gunfire and whether any security camera video can help in the investigation.”