Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said in an email to his staff that he will retire at 5 p.m. on March 1.
Oklahoma County Commissioners will appoint an interim sheriff, and Gov. Mary Fallin will set a date for a special election within 30 days.
Whetsel's email to employees:
I am proud of the many changes and improvements that we made during the past 20 years at the Sheriff's Office. Working together with our supervisors and employees, we modernized the operation of the Sheriff's Office and molded it into an efficient and effective law enforcement agency that actually provided law enforcement and crime fighting services for the protection of our citizens. For the first time in history, we also gained national accreditation be the American Correctional Association and the National Commission for Correctional Health Care for the operation of the jail.
I must say a special thank you to the employees of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office is blessed to have employees who serve due to their dedication and compassion for our citizens. I am very proud of you and pray for your safety daily. You are dedicated and professional men and women who have made me look good because of your work, in the jail, the courthouse, investigating crimes, serving process, transporting prisoners, keeping records, dispatching calls, maintaining buildings and vehicles, in personnel and fiance, interdicting drugs, protecting children in schools and patrolling the streets.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, and now this is the season and the time for my retirement. I thank you for the great work you have done for our citizens.
Oklahoma County Commissioners voted in November to allow Whetsel to keep his job, pending a continued investigation into a controversial audit.
Whetsel maintains he did nothing wrong. He asked commissioners to let his public support speak for itself. He edged Mike Christian in the November election to keep his Sheriff’s seat.
An October audit showed a list of potential broken laws and creative accounting, including choosing to avoid paying down millions in debt. The audit also pointed out nearly $900,000 had been spent on new vehicles while the office still had debts.
Whetsel said they released more than the District Attorney David Prater and State Auditor asked for because they “had nothing to hide”.
In October, Whetsel apologized for errors saying simply "they were just that, errors.” He also said everything he did was for the good of the county and that he takes full responsibility moving forward.
Whetsel began serving as the Oklahoma County Sheriff in 1997. He was re-elected to a sixth term in November.
Stay with News 9 for the latest information on breaking news.