Oklahoma Officials Call For Sheriff Oversight Panel
OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma County commissioner and three other elected officials are calling for a new sheriff oversight panel to be formed.
The report was requested by former Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel who announced his retirement last month and whose last day was March 1.
District 2 County Commissioner Brian Maughan said the report findings are deplorable, and are proof that a non-political trust needs to be formed to oversee the office and the jail.
"You have to have an accountability to the taxpayers, and we are certainly asking for that," said Maughan during an afternoon news conference.
He was joined by Oklahoma County Court Clerk Rick Warren, newly-elected Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten and Deputy Assessor Larry Stein who came as a representative for Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan.
Maughan called this a first for Oklahoma County, and one he's not proud of -- discovering more than $3.3 million worth of items unaccounted for at the Oklahoma County sheriff's office and jail.
“You know 3.4 million dollars of missing materials owned by the tax payers is unforgivable and it is reprehensible,” said Maughan.
The more than 140-page report released last week by the Oklahoma state auditor and inspector revealed how more than 300 items - including cars and even guns - were unaccounted for in the Oklahoma County sheriff's office current and past inventories.
Maughan even brought up two text messages that were sent to OCSO employees last week, asking for those with an agency firearm to take a picture of their weapon – and those with a county issued camera to do the same - and to send it in.
“I personally find it very difficult to know how 18 vehicles could be missing,” said Maughan. “I don't know how numerous weapons could be missing.”
On Monday, the Oklahoma County sheriff's office, acting under interim Sheriff P.D. Taylor, released this statement stating in part:
The audit was instrumental in pointing out shortcomings involved in our property management system... the office has restructured our property management staff and implemented new policies and procedures...One of the main issues the audit brought forth was that items were not being removed from inventory after disposal. The inventory list is in the process of being brought current and cleaned up for submission with our annual report to the clerk's office.
But four Oklahoma County elected officials feel the creation of a non-political trust to oversee future operations is key.
“We will get behind this, we will turn it around and we will make county government work again,” said Warren.
Maughan said the proposed panel would consist of an appointed trust of five to seven members who would oversee and scrutinize all operations of the sheriff’s office. He plans to present the plan to the Oklahoma County Budget Board in the next two months.