Oct. 7, 2012
Here’s a thought provoking article about the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s race written by Craig Dawkins posted today at the Red Dirt Report.
Smoke and Mirrors: A public rebuke of the status quo and why Oklahoma County residents should elect a new sheriff.
OKLAHOMA CITY — As a former member of the Oklahoma County Jail Funding Taskforce, I have quite a bit of personal insight into the history of the jail and how it has been operated under the guidance of the current sheriff John Whetsel.
The Oklahoma County Detention Center opened for use in November of 1991 at a total cost of $53.3 million. Just before the jail opened for operations, a grand jury examined the facility and determined that it was an excellent jail that “county citizens could be proud of.” For those counting, our jail is only 21 years old. Whetsel has been sheriff 16 of those 21 years.
Since then, there have been three separate committees that have looked into the problems at the jail. The “Primary 9” jail committee, the Jail Funding Taskforce committee, and the Adult Detention Advisory Committee (ADAC) made recommendations to the county and none of those recommendations have been implemented. Two of the three jail committees (Primary 9 and ADAC) recommended the jail be placed under a jail trust authority. The county pledged to do so after ADAC issued its report but has thus far failed to follow through on that promise. You should know that Whetsel adamantly opposes a jail trust. It appears county officials on the Budget Board also oppose a jail trust. A jail trust will not come as long as Whetsel is our county sheriff.
Some might ask, “Why do we want a jail trust running our jail?” It’s all about accountability. Something that Whetsel has resisted at every turn by each of the committees that have reviewed his operations. Under current state law, a county sheriff can spend their monies in any way they want to do so.
In a story published by The Journal Record on May 1, 2003, former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys said, “It’s totally unaccountable. If the sheriff wanted to buy a jet airplane, he could, according to this ballot language, and he’d be answerable to nobody.” Trust me when I say that’s exactly the way Whetsel wants it. I have been in numerous meetings where Whetsel defiantly announced that he is accountable to no-one other than the Oklahoma County voters.
So the question is what has Whetsel done, after 16 years deserving of another term?