A DHS caseworker is busted with crack cocaine on Christmas. This is the second DHS employee arrested on drug complaint in the last month.
Police said Terry Pursell appeared disheveled and on a drug binge when officers found him parked outside a restaurant in South Oklahoma City on Christmas.
Officers found crack pipes and six small rocks of cocaine in Pursell's pockets. The officers said Pursell yelled "My job."
Pursell is a child welfare specialist for the Department of Human Services in Oklahoma County. When police handcuffed Pursell, he told officers "I'm probably going to lose my job."
Sheree Powell, a spokesperson for DHS said if Pursell is convicted of a felony he will automatically be fired.
"We take incidents like this very seriously because we serve vulnerable children and adults and our priority is to make sure children and the people we serve are safe," said Powell.
DHS confirms Pursell has been a child welfare specialist since 2003. The agency acknowledges Pursell has a caseload that requires him to investigate child abuse and neglect complaints as well as determine permanent placement for children. During the legal process, the agency will suspend Pursell.
DHS did not say if there have been other problems with Pursell in the last eight years but will suspend Pursell during the course of the investigation. A spokesperson said "this particular employee will not be in direct contact with children or any other clients for DHS while this incident is being investigated."
This is the second internal investigation in the last month. Police also arrested Kingfisher County DHS Director Steven Torres for drugs and drunk driving on December 7. DHS responded by saying although its employees are not immune to making mistakes, the agency does take appropriate action.
12/13/2011 Related Story: Kingfisher County DHS Director Faces DUI, Drug Charges
Pursell is currently in jail. When he is released, DHS said it will determine if he will be suspended with or without pay.
A spokesperson said, "We hold our employees to a very high standard and we certainly do not tolerate any type of activity like this."
DHS also requires its employees to go through a background check, drug and alcohol testing. Employees also must submit to random drug testing.
12/27/2011 Related Story: OKC Man Arrested For Cocaine Works For DHS